December 4, 2013
New index of states' health preparedness gives Minnesota strong marks
National Health Security Preparedness Index gauges readiness for public health emergencies
A new tool developed to measure readiness for public health crises shows that Minnesota stands out for its community planning and engagement, laboratory testing capabilities and social capital and cohesion. All these factors help bolster the state's ability to deal with health emergencies ranging from disease outbreaks to natural disasters.
The evaluation tool, called the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI), is available to the public at www.nhspi.org. It was developed by a team of experts from the fields of public health, emergency management, private sector, nonprofits, government, and academia. The NHSPI examines the health security preparedness of the nation by collectively looking at the health security preparedness of states, and is intended to be an annual measure of progress.
Jane Braun, director of emergency preparedness for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the new index shows that Minnesota, like the nation, has substantial health security preparedness capability, reflecting important gains made in recent years.
"We are above average overall, but there is still work to be done," Braun said. "Minnesota's overall index was 7.6, which is above the national average of 7.2, and we have made significant improvements since some of the measures were taken. We expect to have even stronger marks next year." The 2013 Index identified several strengths for Minnesota, including:
- Community Planning and Engagement: This area looks at the extent to which a state has engaged entities in communities such as schools, volunteer agencies, the health care workforce, and others in emergency planning and preparation. It also looks at community capacity to ramp up during crises.
- Laboratory Testing: This area measures the state laboratory system's ability to conduct quality testing and analysis to detect biological disease agents or assess chemical agents and to perform other tasks needed in an emergency.
- Social capital and cohesion: This measure includes things such as "percentage of residents doing favors for neighbors," "percentage of community residents volunteering" and even voter turnout rate. These measures are relevant to emergency preparedness and response because it has been shown such factors improve both the rates of recovery in communities and increase the quality of recovery after an event.