Augusta Free Press

Virginia scores highest overall rating in latest health security preparedness index

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that the Commonwealth of Virginia received the highest overall rating among states nationwide for the 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The annual index, which is developed by the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other development partners, is a measure of how well communities, states and the country are prepared for emergencies and disasters that can negatively impact the public’s health.

Virginia’s overall index result for 2014 is 8.2, exceeding the national average overall. The overall national averages for states range from 6.5 to 8.2. This is an improved result from 2013, when Virginia’s NHSPI overall result was 7.9, with the overall national averages for states ranging from 5.9 to 8.1.

“Virginia’s highest ranking among all other states for health security preparedness should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched Commissioner of Health Dr. Marissa Levine and her team work to keep Virginians healthy and safe,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Healthy and safe communities are an essential part of a strong and growing economy, so I want to thank Dr. Levine and the public health leaders and employees across the state, hospitals, the health care community, first responders, emergency managers, municipalities, and community organizations for the vital role they play in maintaining our readiness to deal with health security threats.”

Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr., MD said, “Virginia celebrates this recognition as a leader in public health security preparedness, but also accepts the responsibility of leading the nation by example. Through the efforts of many, our state exemplifies dedication to protecting the health of its citizens.”

“Virginia’s ongoing measures to prepare for a possible case of Ebola are an example of the level of urgency and weight we put upon being ready for unprecedented risks to public health,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “We celebrate the recognition by the NHSPI but are also fully aware that we must continuously prepare and test our readiness and avoid complacency.”

Virginia’s 2014 NHSPI result demonstrates leadership in strength across six separate categories, including:

For more information on the NHSPI, visit www.nhspi.org.