January 30, 2014
Concord, NH - A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that New Hampshire has made significant progress toward building and strengthening its public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities and remains ready to respond to a crisis. This is an annual snapshot of the nation’s public health system that demonstrates how federal investments have enhanced the ability of the states to respond to public health threats and emergencies.
The report, 2013-2014 National Snapshot of Public Health Preparedness, presents data on laboratory and response activities taking place at state and local health departments across the nation. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from all types of public health threats—such as disease outbreaks, chemical releases, or natural disasters—requires that public health departments improve and maintain their capabilities in surveillance and epidemiology, laboratories, and response readiness.
“We are pleased with the results of the report,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “Employees at our Department and around the State have put in tremendous amounts of work over the last few years to prepare for emergencies as well as some real life practice that have enabled us to improve and learn what works best for the people of New Hampshire.”
Accomplishments in 2012 highlighted in the report for New Hampshire include:
- The Public Health Laboratories (PHL) at DHHS capacity to test for specific biological agents. The PHL passed four out of four proficiency tests in 2012 to evaluate their abilities to receive, test, and report on suspected biological agents to CDC.
- PHL has demonstrated capabilities for responding if the public is exposed to chemical agents. The PHL successfully identified the chemical agent during unannounced proficiency testing.
- The PHL received a score of 100% on its ability to rapidly identify E. coli and Listeria samples and enter the results into the PulseNet system within 4 days.
- The DHHS Incident Management Team leads reported for immediate duty in 20 minutes in 2012 during a drill when the goal was within 60 minutes.
- New Hampshire developed a timely, approved Incident Action Plan for a response.
- The State received an overall score of 100 from CDC on the Technical Assistance Review for its plans to receive stage, distribute, and dispense medical assets received from the Strategic National Stockpile or other sources.
- For the Manchester/Nashua Metropolitan Statistical Area, the State received a Technical Assistance Review score of 80 out of 100 in 2012. This is part of the Cities Readiness Initiative of the Strategic National Stockpile.
Public health threats are always present, whether caused by natural, accidental, or intentional means. Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the Vermont Yankee tritium investigation, “Snowtober,” the hepatitis C and A outbreaks, and other emergency events that have occurred recently underscore the importance of the State and communities being prepared for all types of hazards. Preparing adequately for natural disasters and disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies that are inevitable and may happen concurrently requires adequate funding in an effort to sustain and improve public health infrastructure, staffing, training, and community resiliency.
The report and State-specific information on New Hampshire is available on CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/pubs-links/2013/.