SD scores 5 of 10 in health reportTrust for America’s Health ranks 50 states on preparedness.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
South Dakota and much of the nation are not adequately prepared for a public health emergency, a report released Wednesday concludes.
South Dakota scored a five out of 10 in the “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism” report compiled by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C., scored a six or lower.
Kansas and Montana scored lowest — three out of 10 — and Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest — eight out of 10.
“In the past decade, there have been a series of significant health emergencies, including extreme weather events, a flu pandemic and food-borne outbreaks,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.
“But, for some reason, as a country, we haven’t learned that we need to bolster and maintain a consistent level of health emergency preparedness. Investments made after Sept. 11th, the anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina led to dramatic improvements, but now budget cuts and complacency are the biggest threats we face.”
South Dakota's state epidemiologist, Lon Kightlinger, said state officials will study the report.
"We find these types of reports to be very useful evaluation tools and always work to improve weak areas," Kightlinger said.
Already, work is underway to improve the whooping cough immunization rate, said Barb Buhler, public information officer for the South Dakota Department of Health.
"The pertussis immunization rate is something we are working with childhood immunization providers to improve," Buhler said. "Regarding public health funding, the Health Department has certainly been impacted by the same budget pressures as the rest of state government."
South Dakota received positive scores for the following indicators:
• Response Readiness: The state was able to notify and immediately assemble (within the goal time of 60 minutes) public health staff to ensure a quick response to an incident in 2011.
• Infectious Disease Control: The state requires Medicaid to cover flu shots with no copays for beneficiaries younger than 65.
• Health System Preparedness: The state participates in a Nurse Licensure Compact.
• Public Health Laboratories Staffing and Surge Capacity: The state public health laboratory reports having enough staffing capacity to work five, 12-hour days for six to eight weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak, such as a novel influenza A H1N1, from Aug. 10, 2011, to Aug. 9, 2012.
• Public Health Laboratories, Chemical Threat Preparedness: The state public health laboratory reports having increased or maintained its Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (LRN-C) chemical capability from Aug. 10, 2011, to Aug. 9, 2012.
South Dakota received negative scores for the following indicators:
• Funding Commitment: The state did not maintain or increase funding for public health programs from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2011-12.
• Infectious Disease Control and Vaccinations: The state did not meet the U.S. Heath and Human Services goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 19- to 35-month-olds against whooping cough.
• Extreme Weather Event Preparedness: The state does not currently have a complete climate change adaptation plan.
• Community Resiliency: The state does not mandate all licensed child-care facilities to have a multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plan.
• Emergency Management: The state has not been accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP).
The “Ready or Not?” report provides a series of recommendations that address what it identified as gaps in emergency health preparedness, including:
• Reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA);
• Assure sufficient, dedicated funds for public health preparedness to ensure basic capabilities to respond to threats public health departments face every day and also to have the trained experts and systems in place to act quickly in the face of major, unexpected emergencies;
• Provide ongoing support to communities so they better cope and recover from emergencies;
• Modernize biosurveillance to a real-time, interoperable system to better detect and respond to problems;
• Seriously address antibiotic resistance;
• Improve research, development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures;
• Increase readiness for extreme weather events; and
• Update the nation’s food safety system.