Washington, D.C.—In the 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.
The report, issued by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), found that while there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness over the past 10 years, particularly in core capabilities, there continue to be persistent gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies, ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events.
In the report, Kansas and Montana scored lowest—three out of 10—and Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest—eight out of 10.
“In the past decade, there have been a series of significant health emergencies, including extreme weather events, a flu pandemic and foodborne outbreaks,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. “But, for some reason, as a country, we haven’t learned that we need to bolster and maintain a consistent level of health emergency preparedness. 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.”
The Ready or Not? report provides a snapshot of our nation’s public health emergency preparedness. Its indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources, or information provided by public officials. Some key findings from the report include:
“Public health preparedness has improved leaps and bounds from where we were 10 years ago,” said Paul Kuehnert, MS, RN, director of the Public Health Team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But severe budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels threaten to undermine that progress. We must establish a baseline of ‘better safe than sorry’ preparedness that should not be crossed.”
The Ready or Not? report provides a series of recommendations that address many of the major gaps in emergency health preparedness, including:
A full list of all of the indicators and scores and the full report are available on TFAH's website and RWJF's website. For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. The data for the indicators are from publicly available sources or were provided from public officials.
8 out of 10: Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin
7 out of 10: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota and Virginia
6 out of 10: Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming
5 out of 10: Alaska, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia
4 out of 10: Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada and New Jersey
3 out of 10: Kansas and Montana
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook.