JACKSON — Jim Craig, director of health protection for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), is in Washington, D.C., today for the public release of the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI), a new national index that helps states assess their level of preparedness in the areas of health and security.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mississippi ranks among the top 10 states for major disaster declarations.
“As we learned after Hurricane Katrina, it’s very important that we be prepared for disasters or emergencies as a state,” said Craig. “Overall Mississippi measures very well in this index; we’ve made a lot of progress in the past several years.”
Craig, who served as the former chair of the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Directors of Public Health Preparedness Executive Committee during the development of the NHSPI, says the document is a strong tool to measure emergency management performance.
The NHSPI, which will be released today, uses 128 pre-event measures of public health and health care system structures, processes, and outcomes. The index was a collaboration of ASTHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 20 other development partners.
“It’s important for all states to measure different aspects of managing an emergency. Mississippi received perfect scores in its ability to receive and distribute life-saving medication and equipment during an emergency,” said Craig. “We scored above the national average in our ability to diagnose chemical and biological terrorism agents. We also scored above the national average in our disaster management plans for vulnerable populations.”
Craig is pleased with Mississippi’s results, but adds there is still much work to be done.
The NHSPI is built on public-use data and represents the most comprehensive set of health security preparedness measures to date. The categories measured include Community Planning and Engagement, Incident and Information Management, Surge Management, and Countermeasure Management.
For more information on the NHSPI and the 2013 results, visit www.nhspi.org.