Government Shutdown Affects Our Health Through the NIH and CDC
There were the eye-rolling moments in the shutdown today (it's Yosemite's birthday... and no one can visit because the National Parks are closed) and then there were the sobering. Patients are being turned away from NIH. There will be on average 200 patients (30 of them children) this week who will not be able to start their clinical trial because our branches of government can't negotiate. There is research that will be delayed. And down in Atlanta, the CDC will not be able to help us navigate flu season.
For some people, this government shutdown is a matter of life or death.
The shutdown comes on the heels of the sequester, which had already greatly reduced NIH's ability to fund and conduct research. In an era where we have the opportunity to make great strides in science, understanding more and more about the human body, it is frustrating to not have the necessary funding dedicated to a place that aims to save lives; a place that many go as a last resort when traditional methods of healing haven't worked.
Additionally, the CDC sent home employees, which affects every single one of us:
Frieden said that two-thirds of the CDC's employees -- about 8 thousand people -- are not at work protecting Americans from health threats.
That includes tracking outbreaks of diseases and hospital-acquired infections, foodborne illnesses and the 2013-2014 flu season, which the agency has recently been updating the public on along with vaccination rates.
In other words, small problems may become very big problems this year.
Senator Arlen Specter who famously moved from being a Democrat to a Republican and back to being a Democrat said, "There's nothing more important than our good health - that's our principal capital asset." And yet we can clearly see that the health of the general public is not being treated as our capital asset right now as both parties shutdown the government while bickering about the Affordable Care Act.
Let's return to placing a higher worth on our health, and let's start by getting the government up and running so the NIH and CDC can open their doors again.
What do you think about the government shutdown affecting NIH and the CDC?