In an annual report on health emergency preparedness, 35 states and Washington, D.C., scored a 6 or lower on 10 key indicators of preparedness. The report was issued by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
The report found that despite significant progress in improving public health preparedness, there remain “persistent gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events.”
Even through emergencies over the past decade like extreme weather, a flu pandemic, and foodborne outbreaks, the United States has not “learned that we need to bolster and maintain a consistent level of health emergency preparedness,” said TFAH Executive Director Jeffrey Levi.
“Investments made after September 11th, the anthrax attacks, and Hurricane Katrina led to dramatic improvements, but now budget cuts and complacency are the biggest threats we face,” he added.
Among recommendations, the report suggests:
- Reauthorizing the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act,
- Providing ongoing support to help communities cope with and recover from emergencies,
- Improving strategies to detect and respond to problems, and
- Addressing antibiotic resistance.