The 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index has been released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Index provides measures of data nationally and for each state in the US across six public health domains, which include:
- Health security surveillance
- Community planning and engagement
- Information and incident management
- Healthcare delivery
- Countermeasure management
- Environmental and occupational health
The documents found on the website indicate a continued trend of improvement across the nation, but progress is slow, with some states lagging behind significantly according to the study, particularly in the deep south and mountain west regions.
The report identifies the following factors as having the greatest influence on the increase and intensity of US and global health threats:
- Newly emerging and resurgent infectious diseases like Zika, MERS, and Ebola.
- Growing antibiotic resistance among infectious agents.
- Incomplete vaccination coverage.
- Globalization in travel and trade patterns.
- Political instability, violence and terrorism risks.
- Aging infrastructure for transportation, housing, food, water, and energy systems.
- Extreme weather events including storms, fires, floods, droughts, and temperature extremes.
- Cyber-security vulnerabilities.
I think it’s important to note that while some of the factors listed above are distinctly within the public health realm, others are more universal in nature. So not only are the findings of this study relevant to everyone, because public health is relevant to everyone, but many of the factors that influence the threats fall within areas of responsibility of broader emergency management and homeland security.
Public health matters are near the top of my list of greatest concern. This report clearly shows that while we have made great strides in public health preparedness, we have a long way to go. There is also no end game. We don’t get to say we won after playing four quarters, three periods, or nine innings. These are efforts in which we must persist, and not only with today’s tools and capabilities, but we must constantly look toward new tools. However, as we do this, new threats will emerge. It may seem intimidating, but it’s essential.
What are you doing to further public health preparedness capabilities?
© 2017 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP