ASTHO releases National Health Security Preparedness Index

The Association of State and Territorial Health Offices, a nonprofit organization representing U.S. public health agencies, recently announced the release of the National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The NHSPI, which is the result of a partnership between the ASTHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 20 development partners, is a new way to measure and advance U.S. readiness to protect the American people during a disaster. The index measures health security preparedness of the U.S. by looking collectively at existing state-level data.

Health agencies and professionals can use the index to inform policy changes and resource decisions, guide quality improvement and encourage shared responsibility for preparedness across a community.

"Few things are as important as protecting people's health and safety in times of emergency," Ali Khan, the director of CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said. "This first-of-its-kind index allows us to gauge how prepared we are as a nation, and as individual states, to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from public health threats."

The NHSPI for 2013 found the nation's greatest strengths were in health surveillance, incident and information management and countermeasure management. The index determined areas in greatest need of development were community planning and engagement and surge management.

The NHSPI will update its results annually.

"Policymakers, practitioners, researchers, communicators, and others interested in strengthening the health security of states and the nation are invited to explore and utilize the NHSPI," John Lumpkin, the chair of the NHSPI's steering committee, said. "Exploring the index can deepen understanding of what influences our national health security and what is needed to sustain and advance it."

The NHSPI can be accessed at http://www.nhspi.org/.

The ASTHO is a national nonprofit organization that represents public health agencies in the U.S. and over 100,000 public health professionals the agencies employ. The organization seeks to track, evaluate and advise members on the impact and formation of public or private health policy and how it may impact the organization's members.