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North Carolina Tops in State Public Health Preparedness

 

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
For Release: Immediate
Date: December 20, 2012
Contact: Mark Van Sciver 919-855-4840

RALEIGH – North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today that our state received top marks for public health preparedness from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). North Carolina – along with only Maryland, Mississippi, Vermont and Wisconsin – ranked highest in the country, achieving eight of the Trust’s 10 readiness indicators, which include funding commitment, infectious disease control, and extreme weather event preparedness.

The ratings and the parameters used to determine state public health readiness are reviewed in the Trust’s 10th report, this year titled “2012 Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism.” The report focuses on issues related to events of the past three years such as pandemic flu and severe weather events.

“We are pleased and proud to have received a high ranking again this year,” State Health Director Laura Gerald said. “This reflects the investment made in North Carolina for public health in general and in preparedness specifically. It also is gratifying to know that our dedication to improving our State Laboratory of Public Health is being recognized.”

North Carolina’s new State Laboratory for Public Health opened in October, providing additional capacity to manage large-scale outbreaks and emergencies.

“Obviously, lab capacity – both in terms of personnel and testing equipment – is essential to maintaining these high standards and our high state of readiness,” Gerald said.

The other areas reviewed by the Trust include:

  • Funding Commitment
  • Response Readiness
  • Infectious Disease Control and Vaccinations: Did the state meet the HHS goal of vaccinating 90 percent of 19- to 35-month-olds against whooping cough?
  • Infectious Disease Control: Does the state require Medicaid to cover flu shots with no copays for beneficiaries under the age of 65?
  • Extreme Weather Event Preparedness
  • Community Resiliency
  • Emergency Management
  • Health System Preparedness

North Carolina, along with 48 other states, did not meet a national goal for vaccinating 90 percent of young children, ages 19-36 months, against whooping cough (pertussis). Thirty-five states, including North Carolina, as well as Washington, D.C., do not currently have complete climate change adaptation plans, which include planning for health threats posed by extreme weather events.

For more information about TFAH and the report, please visit healthyamericans.org. For more information about North Carolina’s preparedness efforts please visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/phpr/ and flu.nc.gov.

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