Nebraska has improved to a barely-passing grade on a new national report that gauges the states on being prepared for public health emergencies. Serena Vinter, senior research associate of the group Trust for America’s Health, says the report ranked the states’ preparedness to address several issues, from obesity to bioterrorism to pandemic flu.
Nebraska scored six out of ten which was up from five last year, showing the state continues to make progress. Vinter says the Husker State did improve in several categories, including having the doctors and scientists in place to handle virtually any pending public health crisis. Public health labs are now available to do testing year-round 24-7 which Vinter calls “essential” as if there’s a bioterrorist response at night or on a weekend and your lab is only open 9-to-5, that’ll limit your ability to respond.
She also complemented Nebraska on maintaining its spending to essential services, even when the state’s budget has faced significant turmoil and a massive shortfall. Nebraska didn’t cut funding to public health services, which Vinter calls a “great testimony to the leadership in the state.”
One place where the state lacks was particularly troubling to Vinter. She says Nebraska did not buy 50-percent or more of its share of anti-viral medications to prepare for a potential pandemic flu outbreak. Especially in light of the ongoing H1N1 pandemic, Vinter says those meds are one way to try and limit the severity of a disease outbreak.
Also, Nebraska has no law or legal opinion in place to limit liability against organizations that provide volunteer help during emergencies. Overall, no states scored ten out of ten, while eight states earned nines.
Two-thirds of the states ranked seven or lower, like Nebraska at six, while Montana had the worst ranking, a three. For full details on the “Ready or Not” report, visit: www.healthyamericans.org.