National Gains

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index, and the results show both signs of progress and reasons for concern. Working off of a 10-point scale, and intended to capture the state of the nation’s readiness for managing community health emergencies, the 2017 results show a score of 6.8. This represents an improvement of 1.5 per cent over 2016 and a 6.3 per cent improvement from when the Index was first recorded four years ago.

While the continued improvement is encouraging, issues are still noted with the spreads between states, with preparedness lacking in the Deep South and Mountain West regions. Observed Glen Mays, PhD, MPH, who leads a team of researchers at the University of Kentucky for developing the Index, "Equal protection remains an elusive goal in health security, as rural and low-resource regions have fewer and weaker protections in place. Closing the gaps in preparedness among states and regions remains a national priority."

The Preparedness Index represents a summation of over 130 different factors - ranging from food and water safety to vaccination rates to the number of paramedic and hospitals - intended to capture an accurate measurement of health security and preparedness. Overall, 18 states had preparedness levels significantly above the national average, and 20 states had preparedness levels significantly below.