Report Finds California Falls Short on Several Public Health Indicators
California is not adequately prepared to protect some facets of public health, such as preventing the threat of various infectious diseases, according to a new report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/17).
Details of Report
Researchers found that California does:
- Have a climate change plan that includes effects on human health;
- Mandate that health care facilities report health care-associated infections;
- Have a public health laboratory capable of timely transporting samples;
- Offer routine HIV screening through Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program; and
- Have an action plan for disease outbreaks.
However, the report found that California was only able to meet four out of 10 indicators for protecting public health. For example, the state:
- Was unable to increase or maintain funding levels for public health services from fiscal year 2011-2012 to FY 2012-2013;
- Was unable to meet the federal government's goal of vaccinating 90% of 19- to 35-month-olds against pertussis, or whooping cough; and
- Does not require teens to obtain a vaccination for HPV.
In addition, fewer than 50% of the population obtained flu shots (Trust for America's Health report, 12/17).
Reasons for Shortfalls
Researchers said that California and other states likely did not meet the public health indicators because of:
- Outdated systems; and
- Limited funding.
Jonathan Fielding, health director at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said, "There's no question that funding continues to be an issue, and something we're constantly fighting, to make sure we can hire enough people."
The report made several recommendations to strengthen states' public health systems, including:
- Increasing the number of U.S. residents who obtain recommended vaccinations;
- Improving global networks to prevent emerging new illnesses; and
- Maintaining defenses against "old-school" threats, such as malaria and tuberculosis (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/17).