December 17, 2013
Concord, NH – The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) today released an assessment of the states’ readiness to deal with a disease outbreak entitled Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases. New Hampshire has received a score of 8 out of 10 on the indicators analyzed, the highest score of any state and the only one to achieve it. The states received either a yes or no on the preparedness measures. The majority of states (34) scored 5 or lower out of 10 key indicators in the report.
This is the TFAH’s annual preparedness-related report, but unlike “Ready or Not” reports of the past 10 years, this and future reports will focus on the analysis of key national preparedness policy issues rather than measuring and issuing state-specific scores against determined indicators. New Hampshire received a score of 7 out of 10 in 2012. The 2011 report did not rank states but looked at funding and budget cuts. This year’s report looks at 10 measures that are related to public health preparedness, but are not the same indicators from year to year. This analysis offers a good snapshot of where the states are in infectious disease prevention and control, rather than a measure of year-over-year improvement.
"I am very pleased with our score,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, “and all the hard work our staff and partners have done and the strides we have made in improving our preparedness around infectious diseases since 9/11, but there is always room for improvement. We never know when the next outbreak will strike or what it will be: influenza, MERS-CoV, meningitis, hepatitis, bioterrorism or something else. Fighting existing and emerging infectious diseases requires constant vigilance.”
There were two areas where New Hampshire received a “no” score. The first was the vaccination of 90% of children 19–39 months of age with four doses of DTaP, for which New Hampshire achieved 88.7% in 2012. The second was the immunization of 50% of the population against influenza, and during the 2012–13 season 59.2% of children 6 months to 17 years and 46.1% of adults were vaccinated in the State. The Outbreaks report provides recommendations that address many of the major gaps in infectious disease control and prevention states are experiencing, including:
- Strengthening fundamental capabilities – maintaining an expert workforce and giving them state-of-the-art tools required to conduct investigations to quickly detect, control and treat disease outbreaks;
- Countering antibiotic resistance and prioritizing research and development of medical countermeasures should be top health and national security priorities;
- Increasing the number of Americans receiving recommended vaccinations and routine screenings for particular diseases, since these are the safest and most effective ways to reduce infectious diseases in the United States;
- Enhancing disease surveillance and ensuring public health laboratories have the equipment and capacity to not only test for common problems like foodborne illnesses but also for new and large-scale threats like bioterrorism or a pandemic;
- Improving global coordination to prevent and contain emerging new illnesses such as MERS-CoV while maintaining defenses against “old-school” threats like malaria and tuberculosis; and
- Shoring up the nation’s public health preparedness capabilities to respond to major disease outbreaks or acts of bioterrorism to ensure new threats can be rapidly identified and contained.
To read the entire report, go to http://healthyamericans.org/reports/outbreaks2013/. For more information about any of the issues addressed, visit the NH Department of Health and Human Services website at www.dhhs.nh.gov.