Healthcare News & Insights

Are we ready for a public health crisis?

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How prepared is the U.S. for a major public health crisis? A new report has both good and bad news. 

The annual report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) provides good reading for any one who has been watching the coverage of the recent triple-header disaster in Japan, and wondering how well the U.S. could handle a similar health crisis.

TFAH rates each state on ten key criteria to determine how well they could handle a significant public health issue, such as a severe infectious outbreak. The criteria include goals such as having enough staff to cover longer workdays, an electronic surveillance system to track growing public health threats and the ability to quickly identify food-borne illnesses.

The news this year is good — but not great. Most states scored well, with 32 states scoring at least 8 out of 10 points. Even the two lowest performing states, Iowa and Montana, each had five points.

But despite the gains many states have made, the future of public health programs looks dicey. Most programs have been burdened with a decline in funding from federal, state and local levels of government. And with the economy still limping along, a sharp uptick isn’t expected any time soon.

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