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Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health in the Age of Bioterrorism, 2003

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Publication Date:

Publisher(s): Trust for America's Health

Author(s): Trust for America's Health

Topic: Health (Health care planning)

Type: Report

Abstract:

Ensuring public health in national emergency situations necessitates an evaluation of America's preparedness in facing threats such as bioterrorism. Over the past two years, the federal government has spent nearly $2 billion dollars on public health emergency preparedness. According to this December 2003 report released by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), states are only modestly better prepared to respond to health emergencies than they were prior to September 11, 2001. The TFAH report examines 10 key indicators to assess areas of improvement in America's effort to prepare against bioterrorism and other large-scale health emergencies. TFAH's report examined every state's preparedness level in three general categories including funding, public health infrastructure, and indicators that reflect how recent public health bioterrorism funding has affected traditional public health functions. Most states have expanded their health emergency communications networks, upgraded public health laboratories and developed initial bioterrorism response plans. Major areas of concern include: cuts to public health programs; an impending shortage of trained professionals in the public health workforce; disagreements between state and local health agencies over resource allocation; and bureaucratic tie-ups of federal bioterrorism funding. TFAH recommends that new federal measures be established to ensure that state and local public health agencies are truly prepared for all public health hazards. The report also calls for the CDC to track expenditures and institute measurable preparedness standards for state and local health departments. Finally, TFAH suggests that the president, in consultation with Congress, convene a national summit on the future of public health to develop a cohesive, national approach to public health protection.