Ebola in the U.S.—Politics and Public Health Don’t Mix
We need an infrastructure that considers all the players who need to work together. We need to be proactive, as New York has been, with using “fake” patients to test hospital readiness and practice drills to identify lapses in procedures.
We need a health care system that cares for all, even for those without insurance, without causing them to delay seeking care until they are seriously ill, perhaps infecting others in the process (e.g., tuberculosis, more commonly).
And we need to take the politics out of funding for public health and research. We need to approve a strong Surgeon General like Dr. Vivek Murthy, and not have appointments like his be derailed by the NRA and their politicians. NIH’s budget was reduced by $446 million from 2010 to 2014, and subjected to inappropriate politically motivated interference in its decision making. The CDC’s discretionary funding was cut by $585 million during this same period. Shockingly, annual funding for the CDC’s public health preparedness and response efforts were $1 billion lower for 2013 fiscal year than for 2002. These funding decreases have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments since 2008. Again, it is not just the Ebola that is a looming threat. We need to worry about vaccine-preventable but neglected infections like influenza, measles, and whooping cough; the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters.