A majority of states are failing to prevent, control and treat infectious disease outbreaks due to outdated systems and limited resources, according to a report by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
The report — Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases finds that 34 states scored five or lower out of 10 key indicators of policies and capabilities to protect against infectious disease threats.
One state, New Hampshire, scored the highest, achieving eight out of 10 possible indicators. Seven states had the second highest score, achieving seven out of 10 indicators: Connecticut, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. And three states tied for the lowest score, achieving two out of 10 possible indicators: Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey.
Other key findings from the study include the following:
- One-third of states do not require healthcare facilities to report healthcare-associated infections (HAI). Approximately one out of every 20 hospitalized patients will contract a HAI.
- Only one-quarter of states vaccinated at least half of their population against the seasonal flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all Americans ages 6 months and older get vaccinated. Twenty percent of Americans get the flu each year.
- Only two states (Connecticut and Delaware) and Washington, D.C. meet the HHS goal of vaccinating at least 90 percent of preschoolers (19 to 35-month olds) against the whooping cough.
- Fewer than half of states require human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, education for parents about the vaccine or funding for vaccinations. CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the vaccination for both males and females at 11 or 12 years of age.
- One-third of states do not cover routine HIV screening under their Medicaid program. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, and almost one in five do not know they are infected.
- Two-thirds of states decreased funding for public health from fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 to FY 2012-13.
Some recommendations to improve these rates are provided in the report, including:
- Strengthening fundamental capabilities;
- Making antibiotic resistance and medical countermeasures top health and national security priorities;
- Increasing the number of Americans receiving recommended vaccinations and routine screenings for particular diseases;
- Testing not only for routine problems like foodborne illnesses but also for new and large-scale threats like bioterrorism or a pandemic; and
- Supporting policies and incentives to reduce the number of HAIs, ensuring Americans can receive safe care.
The report, which was supported by a grant from RWJF, and state-by-state materials can be found on TFAH’s Web site.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) , December 17, 2013
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