Even with $1.8 billion in federal funding allocated for bioterrorism and emergency preparedness over the past two years, only nine of 50 states have met more than half of 10 preparedness targets drawn up by an expert advisory panel, according to a new report. None met more than seven targets, and most states met five or fewer, according to the report by Trust for America's Health, a not-for-profit public health advocacy group. The targets include having spent 90% of 2002 federal bioterrorism preparedness funds; having distributed 50% of federal capacity building funds to local health departments; and having maintained or increased public health funds in 2003. Overall, states are only modestly better prepared for public health emergencies than they were prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the report said. Despite significant new federal aid, public health agencies are pushed beyond their limits, and many still have "seriously inadequate" response plans for infectious disease outbreaks, the report said. California, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee were said to be the best-prepared states, while Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wisconsin were the least prepared. Only Illinois and Florida had the recommended number of nurses, doctors and pharmacists to receive and distribute medical supplies in an emergency, the report said. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Emergency preparedness far below targets: report
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