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As others see it: Get better prepared for emergencies

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Friday arrived with amusement or laughter about the Mayan Prophecy, warning of an end of some kind. On a serious note, America's preparedness for emergencies -- from salmonella-tainted food outbreaks to weather disasters to bioterrorism -- is declining.

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A new study, released last week, found that 45 states failed to meet eight of 10 measures used to measure public health preparedness.

The 10th annual study by the Trust for America's Health studied all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia failed to meet six or fewer of the measures of public health preparedness.

Minnesota along with South Dakota only met five, while Iowa met six, North Dakota met seven and Wisconsin met eight. ...

A primary cause for the decline in preparedness appears to be deep budget cuts. There are 29 states that cut public health budgets from 2010 to 2012, while 23 states reduced their public health budgets for the second year in a row. In addition, federal funding for states and local preparedness efforts have dropped nearly 40 percent since 2005.

A decade after Sept. 11, anthrax scares and Hurricane Katrina, Minnesota and America have become complacent about the public health threats.

The nation is seeing new diseases arise, like West Nile virus, and old ones arise again, like whooping cough and tuberculosis, along with a growing trend of antibiotic resistance. This does not even take into the account the growing threat of bioterrorism.

Minnesota and our nation must work to maintain its vigilance and work to become better prepared for coming public health crises.

West Central Tribune

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