Navigation Links
Serious Gaps Revealed in U.S. Response to Health Emergencies
Date:12/15/2009

If swine flu were worse, 'we would have really been in trouble,' expert says

TUESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The outbreak of the pandemic H1N1 swine flu has revealed serious flaws in the nation's ability to respond to public health emergencies, a new report says.

The report, prepared by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also finds the dire economy has strained the already underfunded public health system.

"The 2009 H1N1 outbreak is the latest in a series of reminders -- from September 11 to the subsequent anthrax attacks to hurricane Katrina -- that the nation's public health system needs to be ready to respond to a major health crisis," Richard Hamburg, deputy director of the Trust for America's Health, said during a Tuesday morning teleconference.

"The H1N1 flu outbreak vividly exposed serious underlying gaps in the nation's ability to respond to public health emergencies," he said. "On top of that, trying to respond to the pandemic in the middle of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression meant that we were asking public health officials to try to do more with less as budgets, and staff were stretched well beyond their limits."

The United States tends to respond to the crisis of the moment, but fails to commit to fund and enact programs to ensure ongoing public safety, Hamburg said.

"This Band-Aid approach to preparedness needs to change," he added.

According to the report, 20 states scored six or less on 10 indicators of emergency preparedness, and almost two-thirds of the states scored seven or less.

Arkansas, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Vermont scored the highest with nine out of 10. Montana scored the lowest -- three out of 10.

Money spent over the past several years for public health preparedness did improve the nation's ability to meet the challenges of the H1N1 swine flu, the report found, but years of underfunding meant that many public health systems were not fully prepared.

Specifically, the authors cited "a lack of real-time coordinated disease surveillance and laboratory testing, outdated vaccine production capabilities, limited hospital surge capacity, and a shrinking public health workforce."

Moreover, half of the states saw their funding for public health cut, and federal funding for preparedness has been reduced by 27 percent since 2005.

The report -- titled Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health From Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism -- also found that:

  • 27 states cut funding for public health from 2007 to 2009.
  • 13 states have bought less than 50 percent of their share of antiviral drugs for use during a flu pandemic.
  • 14 states can't assure quick pick-up and delivery of laboratory samples all day every day.
  • 11 states and the District of Columbia don't have enough laboratory personnel to work the needed hours in response to a disease outbreak.
  • 30 states don't require childcare facilities to have a multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plan.

"We are a very long way from being in a place where we can say that the United States of America is secure and safe from a wide range of major threats," Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and an associate dean at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, said at the teleconference.

Nationwide, budget problems have led to the layoff of some 15,000 public health workers, and 50 percent of state health departments expect to lay off more people in the coming months, Redlener noted.

Given these cutbacks, Redlener said it's fortunate that the H1N1 swine flu is mild for most people. "One shudders to think how serious this could have been if the virus had been a little different or if we had a second disaster on top of a pandemic -- we would have really been in trouble," he said.

To avoid a future crisis, the report calls for more public health funding and recommends that the response to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic be studied to identify areas that need improvement.

States should also increase public information efforts; reach out to poor minority residents who may get overlooked in a health emergency; work harder to reach at-risk populations; and educate the public about the safety and benefits of vaccines, the report said.

More information

For more information on public health preparedness, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Dec. 15, 2009, teleconference with: Richard Hamburg, deputy director, Trust for America's Health, and Irwin Redlener, M.D., director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, associate dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City; Dec. 15, 2009, report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. More 20 mph zones in London would prevent 100 killed or seriously injured casualties each year
2. Serious Pregnancy Complication Detected With MRI
3. As More Cyclists Hit the Road, Serious Injuries Rise
4. A potential new imaging agent for early diagnosis of most serious skin cancer
5. PCPs are front line defense in diagnosing serious illness in patients with acute lower back pain
6. New Report to President and Congress Addresses Serious Oversights in National Health Care Debate
7. Drinking While Pregnant Poses a Serious Risk to Children, Health Department Reminds Women
8. Tennis Legend John McEnroe Tells Men to Get Serious About Prostate Cancer
9. NeoThrive(R) Enteral Feeding System Addresses the Serious Risk of Tubing Misconnections in NICU Facilities
10. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Common Blood Disorder May Not be Linked to as Many Serious Diseases, as Previously Thought
11. Bayer Statement on U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advice for Patients: Serious Errors with Certain Blood Glucose Monitoring Test Strips
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... Ongoing news ... Aging Life Care Association™ (ALCA) to conduct a survey that takes a closer look ... released today illustrates the prevalence and causes of TBI among the aging population, and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... welcomes S.S. Nesbitt as the latest addition to its growing list of Partner ... locations throughout the Southeast, from Orlando to Huntsville and in between. , Harnessing ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... AxoGen, Inc. (NASDAQ: AXGN), a leading ... the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2015 on Monday, February 29, ... webcast for the investment community following the release at 4:30 PM ET. Investors interested ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... AHRA: The Association ... inspirational speaker Jan Fox will serve as keynote speaker at the organization’s 2016 ... with tools to more effectively communicate with their own organizational staff and leadership. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... For additional information contact Phyllis Strupp 480-488-5858 , ... with Age: The Ultimate Guide to Brain Training" by award-winning author Phyllis Strupp ... publication date is March 16, 2016. A free review copy is available to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 9, 2016 On Tuesday, February ... met with its Arthritis Advisory Committee to ... Johnson & Johnson,s Remicade and most likely ... the U.S. The Biologics Prescribers Collaborative (BPC) ... Alliance for Patient Access, American Association of ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... February 10, 2016 The campaign aims ... 5 years reach the milestone of their 5 th ... ensure 2,50,532 children between the ages of 2 - 5 ... --> The campaign aims to ... reach the milestone of their 5 th birthday   ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... FARMINGDALE, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2016  Misonix, Inc. ... company that designs, manufactures and markets innovative therapeutic ... wound debridement, cosmetic surgery, laparoscopic surgery and other ... second quarter and the first half of fiscal ... --> --> Highlights ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: