PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Washington-based health policy organization says the country should be doing a better job in dealing with diseases and disasters. It did a state by state breakdown of 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.
Trust for America’s Health says the nation continues to react inefficiently during major incidents, be they caused by extreme weather events, or disease outbreaks. CEO John Auerbach says the average score for states was 6.8 out of 10 on the scale.
“This is a composite review of more than 100 measures that related to public health preparedness,” said Auerbach.
Twenty-five states scored a 5 or lower. Pennsylvania scored a 4; New Jersey was among a dozen states scoring 6; Delaware was among three at 8. Only Massachusetts and Rhode Island came in at 9 out of 10, the highest overall scores. Alaska scored 2 out of 10.
Dr. Karen Remley, the CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the report documents “the nation’s inconsistent approach to preparing for health emergencies.”
“Which can mean we are often caught off guard when new threats arrive,” said Remley.
After the 9/11 attacks, since 2002, the organization says funding to support a base level of preparedness has been cut by more than half, yet when health emergencies inevitably happen, the country scrambles to divert funds from other ongoing priorities.
Also, just 20 states vaccinated at least half of their populations, ages 6 months and older, for the seasonal flu. No state was above 56 percent. The Centers for Disease Control goal is 70 percent.