For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Blubaugh, 785-296-5795
Kansas did not meet three out of 10 criteria for public health emergency preparedness in a report released today by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a national non-profit organization that studies and evaluates health readiness and response capabilities in all 50 states. The full report, “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism,” can be found on the Web at http://healthyamericans.org.
“Kansas is as prepared, or more prepared than last year despite the TFAH report,” said KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby. “Continuously improving our ability to protect public health through readiness and response remains a priority of KDHE and our preparedness partners.”
Kansas scored nine out of 10 on last year’s report. The indicator Kansas missed, achieve green status for Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) delivery, was accomplished in 2007 and is reflected in this year’s report. State and local agencies completed a statewide exercise designed to test their ability to distribute and dispense supplies from the SNS. The exercise, conducted in 2006, was the last requirement to meet the green status, the highest SNS rating the state can receive.
One of the three areas for improvement noted in this year’s report is an Electronic Disease Surveillance System (EDSS) that is compatible with the CDC’s national system, including integrating data from multiple sources, using electronic lab reporting, and using an Internet browser.
In November, KDHE launched the Kansas EDSS. The system is compatible with the CDC’s EDSS, with the exception of electronic lab reporting, which will be integrated into the system in 2008. Once electronic lab reporting is integrated, Kansas will meet the standards for this measure.
According to the report, Kansas also failed to meet the two laboratory indicators for 24/7 coverage to analyze samples and the ability to test for biological threats. Despite reported survey results, Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL) staff members are on call on a 24/7 basis and do have the capability to test for biological threats, although space is limited due to proposed renovations to the 50-plus year-old-building.
KHEL is currently in the final phase of selecting a new laboratory director. In the absence of a director, staff who completed the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) survey, which is the data used for the TFAH laboratory criteria, responded incorrectly to these questions. KDHE unsuccessfully tried to change the responses to the lab questions to both APHL and TFAH prior to the report being released. KDHE plans to ask TFAH to officially change the report to reflect these corrections.
The 2007 TFAH report is the fifth of its kind to be released in as many years. Kansas met nine out of 10 indicators in 2006, five out of 10 in 2005, seven out of 10 in 2004, and three out of 10 in 2003.