Three Reports Identify Weaknesses in the Public Health System

Building sustainable advocacy capacity for improving the nation's public health system

In 2003, the nonprofit advocacy group Trust for America's Health, Washington, developed three reports to highlight the gaps in the nation's public health infrastructure and to build support to strengthen the public health system.

The reports addressed the following public health issues:

  • The capacity of state public health laboratories to respond to a chemical attack.
  • The effectiveness of state cancer registries and cancer tracking efforts.
  • The preparedness of states to respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

Project staff used the reports in education and outreach to key constituencies and organizations, congressional members and policy-makers.

Key Findings

Trust for America's Health reported the following findings in its three reports:

  • In Public Health Laboratories, Unprepared and Overwhelmed, Trust for America's Health reports that most measures taken since the September 11, 2001, attack have focused on bioterrorism, leaving America's public health laboratories "dangerously unprepared for a chemical attack."
  • In Improving Cancer Tracking Today Saves Lives Tomorrow: Do States Make the Grade? Trust for America's Health reports that states are missing opportunities to reduce cancer rates.
  • In Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health in the Age of Bioterrorism, Trust for America's Health reports that, after nearly $2 billion of federal bioterrorism preparedness funding, states are only modestly better prepared to respond to public health emergencies than they were prior to September 11th.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $500,000 to support the project from December 2002 through November 2003.

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