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Study finds program has improved health agencies' preparedness for bioterror and disease outbreaks
Date:3/24/2009

A federal program designed to help metropolitan public health agencies prepare to deliver essential medicines to the public after a large-scale bioterror attack or natural disease outbreak has succeeded in improving the level of readiness, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Researchers found that the federal Cities Readiness Initiative, a program active in 72 metropolitan areas, appears to have improved agencies' ability to rapidly and widely dispense life-saving medications and other medical supplies in the event of a large-scale bioterror attack or a naturally occurring infectious disease outbreak.

The study from RAND Health concludes there is merit in extending the program so the impact can be further monitored, although the analysis did not assess the cost-effectiveness of the effort or compare it to other public health priorities.

"The Cities Readiness Initiative has helped agencies in the nation's most-populous regions become better able to dispense life-saving medication following a bioterrorism event or after an infectious disease outbreak," said Henry Willis, the study's lead author and a policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Researchers concluded that a key reason the Cities Readiness Initiative has helped promote improvements has been its focus on a single scenario with a well-defined numeric goal and the technical assistance it has provided to public health officials.

Researchers say the initiative has helped increase the number of local public health staff members working on medication dispensing planning, strengthened partnerships between public health officials and local first-responder agencies, and helped pay for new equipment such as mobile drug dispensing units.

Other public health improvements fostered by the Cities Readiness Initiative are the development of more-detailed plans for medication dispensing, including creation of n
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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