Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, 2007
Publisher(s): Trust for America's Health
Six years after the tragedies of September 11th and the proceeding anthrax scares of 2001, more than half of all Americans do not believe the country is safer than before the attacks. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, nearly 60 percent of Americans do not think their community would be prepared to respond to a natural disaster.
This latest report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) finds that on some measures, significant progress has been made in the nation's preparedness. There are important areas, however, where continued, concerted action is needed. From assuring an adequate stockpile of pandemic influenza countermeasures to having a public health workforce large enough and trained enough to respond to an emergency, federal and state policies still fall short of their stated goals.
Almost half the states do not provide sufficient legal protection from liability for health care volunteers who respond to the nation's call for assistance in an emergency. In many other areas, a lack of transparency makes it hard for the American people and their elected representatives to know whether their government is protecting them. The variation in preparedness among the states, while not as great as in past years, does mean that where one lives still determines how well one is protected. Until all states measure up, the United States is not safe.
Furthermore, just as the nation is beginning to see a return on the federal investment in preparedness, funding to states and localities to maintain and improve their preparedness is declining.
Health emergencies pose some of the greatest threats to the nation. Acts of bioterrorism and natural outbreaks of disease are challenging to detect and contain. In addition, natural disasters often cause health problems that are difficult to predict and prepare for.
Since 2003, Trust for America's Health has issued the Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report to examine the progress that has been made to improving America's ability to respond to health threats and help identify ongoing areas of vulnerability. Some of the key areas of concern TFAH has raised include the need to:
* Increase accountability;
* Strengthen leadership;
* Enhance surge capacity and the public health workforce;
* Modernize technology and equipment; and
* Improve community engagement.