Monday, March 21, 2011

An Important Issue - or At Least I Think It May Be

I suppose it’s a case of what did we know and when did we know it.  A story came to my attention.  It’s online at Mother Jones, and it’s titled, “Death By a Single GOP Cut?” According to the author, Suzy Khimm,

The House GOP's 2011 budget would chop $156 million from the Centers for Disease Control's funding for immunization and respiratory diseases. The GOP reductions are likely to hit the CDC's support for state and local immunization programs, the agency's ability to evaluate which vaccines are working, and its work to educate the public about recommended vaccines for children, teenagers, and other susceptible populations.

So, the cuts would result in less money for vaccinations through public health providers.  That means fewer children vaccinated, and more children at risk for avoidable infectious diseases.

We have recently seen outbreaks of whooping cough and measles.  We know the risk is real enough between those who can’t take vaccinations and those whose parents have been so misinformed as to withhold vaccinations.  Reducing vaccinations as a result of reducing federal dollars would only exacerbate the problem.

Now, as liberal as I am, and as sympathetic in general to the editorial perspective of Mother Jones, I’d like more documentation.  So far, no one else has picked up this story, at least as far as a search in Google News will show.  I did look at the site of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and found a press release: “APHA Strongly Urges U.S. House to Oppose Deep Cuts to Core Public Health Initiatives.”  Unfortunately, that single sentence is all that’s available on the web site.

So, we have one news site referring to a possible risk to a very important public health function (and, no, Huffington Post is not a second reference, because all HuffPo does is cite the Mother Jones article), but without specifics (like the name or number of the bill, and – even better – the paragraph number and a link, so that we could read for ourselves).  We have a statement from a reputable professional organization, but it’s very generic; and while it might well include the specific program of concern, it doesn’t say so.

I certainly want to know more.  I’m going to pay attention.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t put such a short sighted decision beyond the imaginations of someone in Congress, I find it hard to imagine that most members are so badly informed as to allow this to happen.  So, with all due respect to Ms. Khimm, I’m going to watch for this, but I’m not going to get upset until I hear more. 

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