U.S. preparedness improved, but some regions lagging

A national snapshot used to gauge the health of the nation’s health security and emergency preparedness found that readiness has improved significantly over the past five years, but earlier identified gaps remain, with some parts of the country lagging.

A national snapshot used to gauge the health of the nation’s health security and emergency preparedness found that readiness has improved significantly over the past five years, but earlier identified gaps remain, with some parts of the country lagging.

The nation made strides in a year when it was tested by record disasters and , which included two Gulf Coast hurricanes—Harvey and Irma—Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria, and California’s wildfires, according to the report.

Published annually since 2013, the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI) was released the other day by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which funds the effort. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally developed the assessment system, a collaborative effort that for 2017 analyzed 140 different measures across six domains.

CIDRAP says that on a 10-point scale, the United States as a whole had a score of 7.1 for 2017, nearly a 3 percent improvement over 2016 and nearly an 11 percent improvement since the index was unveiled five years ago. Eighteen states were above the national average, and twenty-one scored below the level. In total, thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia improved their scores from last year, while eight held steady and four declined.

At the current rate, it will take the country nine more years to reach a strong health security level of at least 9, according to the report.

Alonzo Plough, vice president of research-evaluation-learning and chief science officer at RWJF, said in a press release from the foundation that threats to America’s health security are rising, but so is the nation’s preparedness to handle them. “The index shows how prepared public and private stakeholders are to tackle health security and sheds light on areas for improvement.”

Still, health officials are worried about differences in preparedness levels, especially given that some regions that lag behind are at higher risk of disasters and contain disproportionate numbers of low-income residents.



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