Emergency Preparedness Has Improved In Every State Since 2001
February 27, 2008 -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the United States is better prepared for a pandemic or biological attack than it was in 2001, highlighting that all of the U.S. state health departments are prompt in responding to reported urgent health threats compared with only 12 states a decade ago.
The CDC's report Public Health Preparedness: Mobilizing State by State says there are still improvements needed including the need to recruit and retain qualified epidemiologists and laboratory workers, improve disease surveillance systems, and develop a legal framework to share critical public health information with other states and jurisdictions.
The Institute of Medicine has several reports that discuss the importance of emergency readiness, particularly in the event of a disease pandemic. Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease re-examines past pandemic events and applies the lessons learned from those experiences to inform our current pandemic disease strategy. The report acknowledges the improvements the U.S. has made in preparing for pandemic influenza, but also discusses the need for a broad-based mitigation strategy that includes non-pharmaceutical interventions in case drugs, vaccines, and other therapeutics are not available at the time.
An Institute of Medicine letter report, Modeling Community Containment for Pandemic Influenza, says communitywide interventions have a role in controlling illnesses and deaths during a pandemic, but community leaders should be aware that these strategies could have negative consequences as well as benefits. Computer models can help officials organize available information about a pandemic situation and inform discussions about the options available. However, the models are inherently limited and provide only an aid -- not a roadmap -- for decision making, the report says. It recommends the development of a research agenda, including research to examine the effectiveness of communitywide interventions.