Ready or Not report shows WI among top states in preparedness

By Kelsie Hoitomt

The Trust for America’s Health issued this month their 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism report.

According to the website, the report found that 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness.

The report shows that there still continues to be gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies, ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events.

In the report, Kansas and Montana scored lowest with a three out 10. Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored the highest with an eight out 10.

The Ready or Not? Report provides a snapshot of our nation’s public health emergency preparedness. Its indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources or information provided by public officials.

Some findings from the report are that 29 states cut public health funding from fiscal years 2010-11 to 2011-12, with 23 of those states cutting funds for a second year in a row and 14 for three consecutive years. States have reported that since 2008, budget cuts have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments.

Also, only two states have met the national goal of vaccinating 90 percent of young children, ages 19-36 months, against whooping cough (pertussis).

“Public health preparedness has improved leaps and bounds from where we were 10 years ago. But severe budget cuts at federal, state and local levels threaten to undermine that progress. We must establish a baseline of ‘better safe than sorry’ preparedness that should not be crossed,” said Paul Kuehnert, MS RN Director of Public Health Team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the report.

This entire report can be found online at http://healthyamericans.org/report/101/