Tuesday, May 01, 2018

New list shows how prepared each state is for a public health emergency; poor, rural states lag

The annual Health Security Preparedness Index was released in April, which ranks each state on how prepared it is to respond to public health crises such as natural disasters, terrorism, or disease outbreaks. Maryland claimed the top spot on the list, while Nevada and Alaska brought up the rear.

"By analyzing 140 measures—including the percentage of bridges in good or fair condition, flu vaccination rates and the number of pediatricians—the index calculates a composite score to determine health preparedness for the country as a whole, as well as individual scores for each state," Kate Elizabeth Queram reports for Route Fifty.

Preparedness continues to improve overall, with the country as a whole scoring a 7.1 out of a possible 10--nearly 3 percent higher than last year, and almost 11 percent higher than in 2013 when the index was first created. The biggest gains in the past year were in information and incident management, which is state and local governments' ability to divert people, supplies, money and information to the locations where they're most needed, Queram reports.

Inequalities in health security remain a challenge, especially in highly rural states in the deep South and Mountain West. Many of those states face a disproportionate number of people living in poverty and an elevated risk of disasters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began compiling the index in 2013, but it's now created as a collaborative effort of more than 30 organizations and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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