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U.S.: Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

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  • U.S.: Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

    Ready or Not? 2008

    December 2008

    Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released the sixth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, which finds that progress made to better protect the country from disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and bioterrorism is now at risk, due to budget cuts and the economic crisis. In addition, the report concludes that major gaps remain in many critical areas of preparedness, including surge capacity, rapid disease detection, and food safety

    Some serious 2008 health emergencies include a Salmonella outbreak in jalapeno and Serrano peppers that sickened 1,442 people in 43 states, the largest beef recall in history in February, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, severe flooding in the Midwest, major wildfires in California in June and November, and a ricin scare in Las Vegas.

    Among the key findings:

    Budget Cuts: Federal funding for state and local preparedness has been cut more than 25 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2005, and states are no longer receiving any supplemental funding for pandemic flu preparedness, despite increased responsibilities.

    In addition to the federal decreases, 11 states and D.C. cut their public health budgets in the past year. In the coming year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy and Priorities, 33 states are facing shortfalls in their 2009 budgets and 16 states are already projecting shortfalls to their 2010 budgets.
    Rapid Disease Detection: Since September 11, 2001, the country has made significant progress in improving disease detection capabilities, but major gaps still remain.

    Food Safety: America's food safety system has not been fundamentally modernized in more than 100 years.

    Twenty states and D.C. did not meet or exceed the national average rate for being able to identify the pathogens responsible for foodborne disease outbreaks in their states.

    Surge Capacity: Many states do not have mechanisms in place to support and protect the community assistance that is often required during a major emergency.

    Twenty-six states do not have laws that reduce or limit liability for businesses and non-profit organizations that help during a public health emergency.

    Sixteen states have purchased less than half of their share of federally-subsidized antivirals to use during a pandemic flu outbreak.

    Every state now has an adequate plan for distributing emergency vaccines, antidotes, and medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the CDC. In 2005, only seven states had adequate plans.

    "States are being asked to do more with less, jeopardizing our safety, security, and health," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We all have a stake in strengthening America's public health system, because it is our first line of defense against health emergencies."

    The report also offers a series of recommendations for improvingpreparedness, including:

    * Restoring Full Funding. (At a minimum to FY 2005 levels.)
    * Strengthening Leadership and Accountability.
    * Enhancing Surge Capacity and the Public Health Workforce.
    * Better address altered standards of care.
    * Modernizing Technology and Equipment.
    * Communications and surveillance systems and laboratories need increased resources for modernization.
    * Improving Community Engagement.
    * Incorporating Preparedness into Health Care Reform and Creating an Emergency Health Benefit.

    Complete article and interactive map for how each state ranks in preparedness

    The salvage of human life ought to be placed above barter and exchange ~ Louis Harris, 1918

  • #2
    Re: U.S.: Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

    Above is a different outlook on the story here:

    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation