U.S. better prepared to handle health emergencies, but there are gaps: report

The 2019 National Health Security Preparedness Index released on Wednesday found that the U.S. scores a 6.7 on a 10-point scale for preparedness. (katifcam/GettyImages)

The U.S. has become more prepared when it comes to managing health emergencies like newly emerging infectious diseases, terrorism and extreme weather conditions at the state and national levels, according to a new report

The 2019 National Health Security Preparedness Index released on Wednesday found the U.S. scores a 6.7 on a 10-point scale for preparedness. That is up 3.1% from the previous year and an 11.7% improvement since the index began in 2013.

The index analyzes 129 different measures of preparedness, looking at a range of factors including transportation infrastructure, hazard planning of health facilities and overall number of emergency responders. The index was originally developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a tool to drive dialogue to improve health security and preparedness and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

“We are seeing some promising national numbers when it comes to our nation’s ability to cope with health emergencies,” said Alonzo Plough, chief science officer at RWJF, in a statement. “Disasters like recent major hurricanes show that to take the next step in increasing our preparedness levels, we must focus on improving equity within our efforts.”

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There was some regional variability when it came to preparedness. 

Eleven states and the District of Columbia were considered to have health security levels significantly above the national average in 2018. That's down from 22 jurisdictions a year earlier.

There were 17 states which had health security levels that fell significantly below the national average. That's down from 20 states. 

A total of 32 states and the District of Columbia experienced one-year gains in health security levels in 2018.

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