South Carolina, like most other states, is not very prepared for a emergency or disaster, according to a new report.
In the 10th annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, South Carolina scored six out of 10 on key indicators of public health preparedness — 35 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower.
The report, issued by the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that while there has been significant progress toward improving public health preparedness over the past 10 years, particularly in core capabilities, there continue to be persistent gaps in the country’s ability to respond to health emergencies, including bioterrorist threats, serious disease outbreaks and extreme weather events.
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The Ready or Not? report provides a snapshot of the nation’s public healthemergency preparedness. Its indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources, or information provided by public officials.
The report found South Carolina lacking in staffing and surge capacity at the state's public health laboratory caused by events like H1N1 outbreak, state mandated multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plan for all licensed child-care facilities, complete climate change plan, and a rate about 90 percent immunizations for whooping cough for children 19 months to 35 months of age.
The state scored points for committing to keep public health funding the same or increase funding in 2012, notifying and assembling public health officials within 60 minutes of an incident, requiring Medicaid to cover flu costs for those under 65, obtaining accredation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, participating in a Nurse Licensure Compact, and having increased or maintained its Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (LRN-C) chemical capability.
The report urges more government funding to curb emergency health problems.
“In the past decade, there have been a series of significant health emergencies, including extreme weather events, a flu pandemic and food-borne outbreaks,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.
"But, for some reason, as a country, we haven’t learned that we need to bolster and maintain a consistent level of health emergency preparedness. Investments made after Sept. 11th, the anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina led to dramatic improvements, but now budget cuts and complacency are the biggest threats we face.”
Both organizations issuing the report claim to be nonpartisan, but the RWJF has previously funded research showing the need for healthcare reform in the country, and funds programs on National Public Radio, and TFAH has also urged government intervention in obesity programs.
In the emergency preparedness report, Kansas and Montana scored the lowest — three out of 10 — and Maryland,Mississippi, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin scored highest — eight out of 10.