According to a new survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Maryland is better prepared for serious disease outbreaks and natural disasters than many other states. Maryland rates 7.5 on a 10-point scale for planning efforts in accordance to emergency preparation and response, according to the 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index.
To compile the index, the nonprofit and 30 organizations follow a process that involves examining over 100 measures, like flu vaccination rates, monitoring water and food safety, numbers of hospitals and paramedics. These measures are then divided into six separate categories, which are ranked on a 10-point scale.
Alaska rates 5.9 as the least prepared for a public health emergency and Vermont’s score of 7.8 as the most prepared. Maryland scored better than the national average of 6.8 and outranked many of its neighbors, including Delaware (7.2), Pennsylvania (7.0), District of Columbia (7.0) and West Virginia (6.7), while earning the same score as Virginia.
Maryland earned the highest score at 9.3 for the ability to mobilize resources to deal with a health emergency. The state rated 6.3, its lowest score for community involvement in emergency planning and the access to high-quality medical care during a public health emergency.
Residents and private-sector businesses must get involved in preparing for public health emergencies. The responsibility does not fall solely on health officials and government emergency managers.
The areas of possible improvement for all states are identified in the index, along with elements that the nation needs to examine more closely, including more “nimble and flexible” ways to fund research and response to community health emergencies. Federal lawmakers delayed the release of funding for Zika virus research and to repair Flint, Michigan’s contaminated drinking water problem.