State slips in health readiness

December 19, 2008
by Jim Myers
Tulsa World

WASHINGTON - Oklahoma continued its slip Tuesday in an annual ranking on how prepared states are to deal with emergencies such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters and bioterrorism.

According to a report, the state achieved seven out of 10 possible indicators for health emergency preparedness capabilities. Last year, Oklahoma earned eight out of 10; in 2006, its score was 10.

Released by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the sixth annual report - Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism - concluded that past progress is now at risk because of budget cuts.

Federal funding for state and local preparedness has been cut 25 percent since 2005, the report stated, also citing cuts in state budgets that have occurred.

"The economic crisis could result in a serious rollback of the progress we've made since Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina to better prepare the nation for emergencies,'' said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health.

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