When it comes to the possibility of pandemic, to prepare ourselves at home is wise, but to take the fight to the source is brilliant. Today affords a window of opportunity to do both.
The weak first-world response to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa has been criticized since mid summer by apolitical groups like Doctors Without Borders. The case of the late Mr. Duncan has America reeling, and today’s announcement that a health care worker in the hospital where he died having been diagnosed with Ebola has escalated the talking point politicalization of this public health issue.
We still have a window of opportunity to use our collective assets effectively. Let’s get smarter here and more aggressive there. This is a “war” worth fighting. NOW. We cannot wait for the Congressional lobbyists to figure out where the profit lies in this call to medical combat. This window of opportunity to “fight it there” will close. Soon.
You may not approve of how Mr. Duncan arrived in Texas, but you can join me in thanking him for exposing our disjointed public health system. He died this morning. But our collective concern about a less than impressive response to communicable disease is NOW alive and well, in part because of the risk he brought home from west Africa. Influenza (now linked to CNS damage in children), dengue fever, and yes, ebola, are all public health risks. There are many more.
The days of ‘government small enough to drown in a bathtub’ spawned mischief like the sequester cuts and the bumper sticker notion that there is ‘no such thing as a good tax’. County health departments across the nation, our first line of defense from and response to public health threats, have been cut or eliminated as a part of the clever crusade of “right sizing”. While it may be fashionable to think public health is not really a public concern worthy of public funding, the predictable outcomes are the result of neglect.
IMHO a ‘good tax’ is one that is an efficient and effective use of our collective resources. I think it is time for the no-good-tax people to ante up.