Thursday, February 28, 2008

CDC: States making progress toward preparedness

U.S. states are more prepared for an emergency, but still have a lot of work to do before they receive an "A" grade, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, said the report, Public Health Preparedness: Mobilizing State by State, shows the progress state health departments have made in areas such as disease detection, lab testing and public health planning -- which is great news for all of us.

Many states have developed emergency response plans, the report found, and they are able to identify and confirm public health threats. States are also good at communicating between the many agencies and organizations that respond during public health emergencies. These efforts are just the beginning steps to becoming fully prepared, however.

The CDC report provides important data and reveals areas where work still needs to be done. States need a better system for electronic health records, for example. They need to make sure that emergency volunteers are legally protected in case they are injured when helping out. And even though they've improved, states need to practice regularly for emergencies to stay prepared, which is something we all benefit from.

After all, while it's up to each and every one of us to be personally prepared for an emergency, isn't it great when our states and health systems are as well?

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