How prepared is Arizona to handle a public health crisis? Well, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation……not very.
Arizona’s overall score of 5.8, based on more than 100 measures from flu vaccination rates to the percentage of people covered by wireless 911, is below the national average of 6.7. In fact, according to the scale used in the report, our state’s ability to handle a public health emergency is considered to be “significantly below the national average.”
What researchers found should be somewhat concerning in part because of the gaps between more prepared states and those that are not.
“The nation’s health protections are not distributed evenly across the U.S., with a preparedness gap of 36% between highest and lowest states in 2015,” the preparedness summary said. “A total of 18 states achieved preparedness levels that significantly exceeded the national average in 2015, with many of these leading states located along the Eastern seaboard or clustered in the Upper Midwest and Southwestern U.S. Conversely, null in 2015, including clusters of states in the Deep South and Mountain West regions.”
Arizona’s weakest areas included:
- Health Care Delivery, and
- Community Planning and Engagement
Our state scored best in the areas of:
- Incident and Information Management, and
- Health Security Surveillance
One public health issue that Arizona is looking to stay ahead of is the Zika virus. According to a recent story in Tucson News Now, the Pima County Health Department has spent almost $200,000 on preparing to deal with Zika.
Tucson News Now asked (Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Francisco) Garcia about how much people in southern Arizona should worry about Zika as the weather heats up.
“Do I think we’re going to have mosquito-to-human transmission of Zika in this county? Absolutely not,” Garcia said. “However, I do believe because of the nature of how people move in and out of Tucson and in and out of the county, it’s likely that we’ll import one or two cases and we’re going to need to be super vigilant.”
Share your thoughts on how well prepared you think your county or your city is to handle a public health emergency, whether it’s the Zika virus or something else. Hearing what people think we do best and what we need to do better, well help us find new ways to reach our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!