Archive for Friday, July 23, 2004

Report: Counties make strides in preparing for bioterrorism

July 23, 2004


— State officials Friday released a report that says county health departments are making significant improvement in preparing for potential bioterrorism attacks.

But good luck trying to find out how an individual county health department is doing.

The $165,000, 122-page report doesn't identify the performance of specific counties, and state officials refused to disclose that information.

Information on which counties are doing a good job and which ones aren't could help terrorists, said Richard Morrissey, acting director of health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"We're trying to avoid a ranking," he said.

Local health departments have received $11.4 million over the past two years to improve their levels of preparedness, officials said.

The new study covers the first year of increased bioterrorism funding -- $5.3 million -- from August 2002 to August 2003. During that period, local health departments statewide improved preparedness levels by 27.7 percent, the study said.

"The findings are very positive," Morrissey said.

Health officials say the bioterrorism funds have also helped counties respond to other public health emergencies, such as natural disasters.

But the report also indicated there was a wide disparity in preparedness levels with rural areas lagging behind the rest of the state. The report is based on surveys completed by local health departments.

The study was commissioned by the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, prepared by the Kansas Health Institute and funded through federal bioterrorism money provided by KDHE.

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