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Major Concerns Over Mississippis Ability to Respond to Infectious Disease Outbreaks

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 30 Dec 2013 01:30am | comments

A new report finds major gaps in Mississippi's ability to counter infectious diseases. MPB's Lawayne Childrey has more on what it means for the state.   

The Outbreaks report finds that Mississippi's ability to prevent and control infectious disease outbreaks is hampered by outdated systems and limited resources.  Rich Hamburg, Deputy Director at Trust for Americas Health, co-author of the study explains some of the factors that make the state so vulnerable.

" One of them is related to whether or not public health funding went up or down. Several are related to vaccination rates. You know we have one on HPV. There's an indicator on whether or not a state mandates that healthcare facilities in their state report healthcare related infections and Mississippi does not do that.  And that's an area where one in 20 patients are contracting healthcare related infections."

He says the report also shows additional concerns.

"Three of them on surge capacities, whether public health laboratories can respond to a major outbreak. And the last one is whether or not the state covers routine HIV screening under their Medicaid program and for that one Mississippi did not get a point."

While there is plenty of room for improvement, State Epidemiologist, Thomas  Dobbs says Mississippi is already close to making measurable progress on a number of issues including healthcare associated infection reporting.

"We're working on accomplishing that within the next month so that would be a pretty easy next target. We're relatively close on our Pertussis vaccination. We're in the mid 80's and 90 percent is the target and I think that we can hopefully get there next year. Something easy as getting Medicaid to offer testing for HIV that's actually going to be part of the Affordable Care Act provisions too so I think that's one that we'll be able to hit as well.

Mississippi scored four out 10 on key policy indicators that protect its citizens against infectious disease threats. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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