INDIANAPOLIS--A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates Indiana has made significant progress toward building and strengthening its and the nation's public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
The report, Public Health Preparedness: Strengthening the Nation's Emergency Response State by State, presents data on a broad range of preparedness and response activities taking place at state and local health departments across the nation.
Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from all types of public health threats such as disease outbreaks, chemical releases, or natural disasters -- requires that public health departments improve their capabilities in surveillance and epidemiology, laboratories, and response readiness.
"Indiana has always strived to be one of the leaders in public health preparedness and response, and the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic was a lesson we won't soon forget," said State Health Commissioner Gregory N. Larkin, M.D. "The CDC's report is validation of the progress we've made, and I'm confident we will continue to work even harder to ensure we are even better prepared in the future than we are today."
Accomplishments highlighted in the report for Indiana include:
*The Indiana State Department of Health had a 24/7 reporting system that could receive urgent disease reports at any time.
*Indiana received a perfect score of 100 from the CDC for its plans to receive stage, distribute, and dispense medical assets received from CDC's Strategic National Stockpile or other sources. (Note: a score of 69 or higher was acceptable.)
*To improve readiness to respond, Indiana activated its public health emergency operations center (EOC) as part of an exercise or drill three times, and staff reported three out of three times to the EOC within the target time of 2.5 hours.
*The Indiana State Department of Health developed four AAR/IPs (after action report/improvement plans) following assessments of our response capabilities during exercises or real incidents.
*The biological LRN laboratory could test for specific biological agents. The laboratory passed four out of four proficiency tests to evaluate their abilities to receive, test, and report on one or more suspected biological agents to CDC.
*The chemical LRN laboratory had capabilities for responding if the public was exposed to chemical agents. The laboratory successfully demonstrated proficiency in six out of six core methods for rapidly detecting and measuring certain chemical agents that can cause severe health effects.
"The Indiana State Department of Health Preparedness Laboratory division responds to a variety of public health threats by accurately testing environmental materials, food, and human specimens sent by first responders, Federal and Indiana law enforcement agencies, and our public health partners," said Assistant Commissioner for Laboratory Services Judy Lovchik, Ph.D. "This report shows we can accurately detect biological and chemical threats."
Public health threats are always present, whether caused by natural, accidental, or intentional means.
Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and other disease outbreaks and natural disasters that have occurred recently underscore the importance of communities being prepared for all types of hazards.
The 2010 CDC report indicates that the surge in effort needed to respond to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic placed an increased strain on a public health system already weakened by workforce shortages and budget shortfalls.
Preparing adequately for future outbreaks --and other public health emergencies that are inevitable and may occur simultaneously -- requires predictable and adequate long-term funding to sustain and improve the public health infrastructure, staffing, and training.
The report and state specific information on Indiana is available on CDC's website at: http://emergency.cdc.gov/publications/20....