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Many States Still Fall Short in Emergency Preparedness: Report
Date:12/18/2007

Survey also shows most Americans don't feel safer six years after 9/11

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans don't feel safer now than they did before 9/11, and their fears might be justified, a new report claims.

For example, seven states have not purchased antiviral medications in the event of a pandemic, 13 states don't have effective plans to distribute vaccines, antidotes and medical supplies in a public health emergency, and seven states and the District of Columbia don't have the ability to test for biological threats.

The report, compiled by the Trust for America's Health and released Tuesday, says that while many states have made progress in preparing for a potential public health disaster, much more needs to be done, and cuts in federal funding for state and local preparedness programs "threaten the nation's safety."

"Sept. 11, the anthrax attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the growing threat of a pandemic flu outbreak have all been wake-up calls to the country revealing gaps in our public health system's ability to respond to major crises," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the trust, said during a midmorning teleconference.

Some important lessons have been learned from these events, Levi said. "Significant progress has been made in the nation's health emergency preparedness effort, but a number of areas still require serious attention."

That concern is heightened by the continual cuts in state, local and federal funding for preparedness, Levi added. "All Americans have the right to expect fundamental health protection during public health emergencies, no matter where they live," he said.

The report evaluates each state on 10 indicators of health emergency preparedness. Among the states, 35 plus Washington, D.C., scored eight or higher. Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia scored 10 out of 10, while Arkansas, Iowa, Mi
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