Health & Fitness

State scores 6 out of 10 in preparedness study

Kansas scores a six out of 10 on the latest emergency health preparedness report, which focuses this year on H1N1 preparedness.

The report, released Tuesday by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said Kansas was one of 20 states that scored six or less on 10 indicators of public health emergency preparedness.

Kansas earned a six out of 10 last year as well, on a different set of measures. They change each year because as some are adopted nationwide, they become less meaningful.

The report's authors said public health improvements made through the years meant the United States was much more prepared to deal with the H1N1 outbreak than it would have been in earlier years.

But it said the outbreak also "vividly demonstrated the existing gaps in public health preparedness."

No state got a 10; eight earned a nine.

The report said Kansas missed the mark on four measures:

* It fails to track diseases through the system used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (that is expected to change in early 2010).

* It does not do a good enough job of tracking pathogens responsible for food-borne disease outbreaks.

* It didn't increase or maintain public health funding in the past fiscal year.

* And it does not require licensed child-care facilities to have written evacuation and relocation plans for emergencies (the state says it does and has requested a change in that score).

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby said in a statement: "The Kansas response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus demonstrates that we have taken significant steps to protect the health of the public, especially from new and emerging threats. We appreciate the information provided in the TFAH report and will integrate it into our overall and ongoing assessment of state public health preparedness."

This is the seventh year for the report. It can be found at www.healthyamericans.org.

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