Thursday, November 16, 2006

ON RIDING THE BIOTERROR TICKET TO THE BIGTIME

Spurred by Tuesday's "Get Sarin Cheap in the Third World" entry on one aspect of what's really going on with the funds spent on alleged defense against biochemical attack, a reader submitted a letter. DD will be getting to more on this subject today and tomorrow but in the meantime I thought readers might like to see it separately.

Anonymous writes:

. . . This is an excellent example of what I have seen many times during my involvement in public health preparedness over the past 10 years, and especially since the Amerithrax incidents and the Smallpox fiasco. The number of people and organizations who see CBW preparedness/research primarily as a new funding stream for what they really want to do, and/or "their ticket to the big time," has been truly astonishing. It is far worse than even the "normally" incoherent funding methods of academic research. It's obscene.

From what I have seen, the vast majority of the Health & Human Services/Centers for Disease Control/Dept. of Homeland Security funds spent thus far for public health preparedness have very little day to day application, and very limited use in emergency situations. (Or they are even redundant as your Sarin example shows.) So as a whole, the American public health and healthcare emergency capacities are really only slightly improved today, despite the staggering sums of money spent so far.

The entire American healthcare system still teeters on the brink of collapse, and even though hospitals, for example, are identified as "First Responders" under one Presidential directive, and "Critical Infrastructure" under another, no meaningful amount of money has actually reached street level in most states. And all the while costs rise, Medicare reimbursment rates are cut, and the great American "Eat/Sit" lifestyle looks more and more like slow-motion suicide on a vast scale. It's going to be an interesting twenty years. And the next major public health crisis will be a real eye-opener. At least for the survivors... (Cynical? Moi?)

Research like that discussed in your article happens all over the country, and the vast majority of it is about protecting jobs rather than citizens. So: Wash your hands. Cough into your elbow. Be ready to self quarantine at home for at least ten days in densely populated areas. Watch the postings at Promed-mail and hope that buys you a headstart.

Don't quit.


Promed-mail is "The global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases & toxins, open to all sources," operated by the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

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