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Experts Say PA Still Vulnerable to Bioterrorism

March 23, 2005
by Amy Worden
Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania's public health system is a "forgotten stepchild" in state government, plagued by inadequate laboratories and a byzantine contracting process, said Shelley Hearne, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that focuses on disease prevention. "For years this state has neglected its public health agency and now lags the rest of the nation in its ability to protect its citizens from health threats," said Hearne, one of six speakers who addressed the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. In a recent report, Hearne's group rated Pennsylvania near the bottom among states it surveyed for bioterrorism preparedness. Only five states scored as poorly or worse when graded on 10 indicators of preparedness for terrorist attacks using biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox.

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