Report says state better prepared for disaster

December 18, 2008
by Ginny LaRoe
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Arkansas is better prepared to protect the public from diseases and disasters than it was in previous years, earning a score of eight out of 10 in a report issued Tuesday by two nonprofit groups focused on public health.

The state lost two points because of a dip in the Arkansas Department of Health's funding and because the federal government has no record of a coordinator for a medical outreach program, the report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said.

Overall, Arkansas is in "pretty good shape" compared with the other 49 states andWashington, D.C., Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, said.

He is an author of the report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, which Levi says is the best available measure of states' ability to handle an event such as a bird flu outbreak or a terroristic act.

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