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Report: Public health preparedness improved, but gaps remain

December 15, 2009
AHA News Now

Investments in pandemic and public health preparedness over the past several years dramatically improved U.S. readiness for the H1N1 outbreak, according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. However, continued concerns include a lack of real-time disease surveillance and laboratory testing, outdated vaccine production capabilities, limited hospital surge capacity, a shrinking public health workforce, and declining federal and state funding for preparedness efforts. Among other actions, the report recommends increased and sustained funding for health care system preparedness. "The ability of the U.S. health care system to handle a large influx of patients - surge capacity - remains the largest threat to the nation's ability to respond to a major catastrophe such as pandemic influenza," the report states. The report ranks state public health preparedness on 10 indicators ranging from antiviral drug purchases to hospital bed availability reporting and emergency liability protections.

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