Nebraska DHHS

LINCOLN, NE – How prepared is Nebraska to respond to health emergencies? According to the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) on Tuesday, Nebraska’s overall preparedness level standing is at 7.5 on a 10-point scale, significantly higher than the national average of 7.1. The marker for Nebraska shows a 5.6 percent increase from 2013.

“Threats to America’s health security are on the rise, but so is our nation’s preparedness to deal with these emergencies,” said Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, vice president of research-evaluation-learning and chief science officer at RWJF. “The Index shows how prepared public and private stakeholders are to tackle health security challenges and sheds light on areas for improvement.”

“It is important for Nebraska to be equipped to prepare for, respond to, and recover from any health emergency,” said Dr. Tom Williams, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “The Index helps shine a light on areas where Nebraska is excelling and where we as a State can work to improve.”

The Index is an annual assessment of the nation’s day-to-day readiness for managing health emergencies. Health security threats can include extreme weather; diseases, like Zika; growing resistance to antibiotics; people not getting vaccinated; global travel; aging infrastructure; and cyber security vulnerabilities.

Nebraska highlights from the Preparedness Index include:

  • Nebraska’s largest improvement occurred in the Countermeasure Management domain (e.g. the state’s ability to dispense medication in an emergency, routine vaccinations like flu shots and immunizations, to number of Pharmacists), which increased by 11.7 percent from 2013 to 2017.

  • The state's highest level of 8.7 was achieved in the Health Security Surveillance domain for 2017.

  • Nebraska significantly exceeded the national average in 3 domains in 2017:

    • Health Security Surveillance,

    • Community Planning & Engagement, and

    • Countermeasure Management.

  • Health security levels in Environmental and Occupational Health declined by -2.9 percent since 2013.

  • Nebraska did not have any health security levels in 2017 that were significantly below the national average in the six domains.

View all Nebraska specific results:

The Preparedness Index analyzes 140 measures—such as percentage of bridges that are in good or fair condition, number of pediatricians, and flu vaccination rates—to calculate a composite score that provides the most comprehensive picture of health security available. The scores indicate the ability to protect the health security of Americans from incidents like newly emerging infectious diseases, growing antibiotic resistance, terrorism and extreme weather conditions at the state and national levels.

Eighteen states achieved preparedness levels that exceed the national average, including Nebraska, with 21 states below the national average. A total of 38 states plus the District of Columbia increased their overall health security in the last year, while eight remained steady and four states declined.

Despite improvements in two-thirds of states, significant inequities in health security exist across the nation: the highest-scoring state (Maryland, 8.0) scores 25 percent higher than the lowest states (Alaska and Nevada, 6.4). Generally, states in the Deep South and Mountain West regions lag behind Northeast and Pacific Coast states. Many of the lower-scoring states face elevated risks of disasters and contain disproportionate numbers of low-income residents.

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