The nation's day-to-day preparedness for health emergencies has improved significantly over the past five years, though deep regional differences remain, an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds.
Based on more than a hundred indicators in six categories — including incident and information management, health security surveillance, countermeasure management, environmental and occupational health, community planning and engagement, and healthcare delivery — the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index assigned the United States an overall score of 7.1 on a ten-point scale, an improvement of 3 percent over last year's score, and an improvement of nearly 11 percent since the index was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013.
At the same time, the report found that health emergency protections were unevenly distributed across states, with a "preparedness gap" of 25 percent between the highest (Maryland, 8.0) and lowest-scoring states (Alaska and Nevada, 6.4) and states in the Deep South and Mountain West generally lagging those in the Northeast and Pacific Coast regions. The report also found that eighteen states achieved preparedness levels that exceeded the national average, while twenty-one states had scores lower than the national average. Last year, thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia managed to increase their overall health security scores, while eight stayed the same and four saw their scores decline.
"Every community must be equipped to prepare for, respond to, and recover from any health emergency," said Stephen Redd, director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. "The index helps pinpoint where cross-sector investments are paying off and how the nation can increase resilience."