Government shutdown: We are all exposed, especially our health
By Kevin Dedner, MPH
The government shutdown is leaving all of us exposed. It may be easy for some to watch the news and conclude that the shutdown has nothing to do with them. For those people, I’d invite you to consider the impact of the shutdown on the public health infrastructure.
Among the 800,000 federal employees, public health workers were also sent home on October 1st . The US Department of Health and Human Services sent 52 percent of its employees home. These workers are responsible for protecting our nation’s health. They often go unnoticed, but if the shutdown lingers for an extended period of time, we will all miss them.
The Centers for Disease Control has protected citizens from the spread of influenza year after year, providing support to states on the distribution of vaccines. The annual seasonal influenza efforts have been halted. Additionally, prevention efforts and surveillance of diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS have been halted also. Prevention efforts and the monitoring of disease are essential to the public health of society.
You’d also be disappointed to know that food inspection services of the FDA, which is responsible for 80 percent of our food supply, has halted routine food inspections. To say it very simply, there is no oversight of basically anything in the grocery store. Furthermore, the employees that identify and track foodborne illnesses have also been sent home.
I’m sure the health department officials in western Kentucky, who are working to arrest a deadly Salmonella outbreak, would appreciate the federal support and expertise. The outbreak is already blamed for one death, for sending five people to area hospitals and for at least 15 cases in three counties. Meat and poultry inspections continue.
A public health system is designed to coordinate an adequate response to disease and prevent future disease. This is service that is rightly provided by government. The notion that a society can function without a government simply isn’t true.
The shutdown leaves all of us exposed. I hope Congress realizes that.
+ Top Story
As the medical community and many Americans come to accept the use of marijuana to treat a range of diseases and symptoms, state legislators are working to keep pace with laws concerning marijuana for medical use.
While I was living in London two years ago, I was at a band rehearsal when I suddenly felt very ill, becoming increasingly dizzy and nauseous. I struggled to stay on my feet until I no longer stand and collapsed onto the floor of the rehearsal space.
For decades, if you asked your doctor what your odds were of suffering a heart attack, the answer would turn on a number: your cholesterol level. Now the nation’s first new heart disease prevention guidelines in a decade take a very different approach, focusing more broadly on risk and moving away from specific targets for cholesterol.
U.S. teens seeking weight-loss surgery have a startling number of health problems that used to be seen only in adults, according to a major government-funded study. Half the teens had at least four major illnesses linked with their excess weight.
Doctors 2 parents: Limit kids’ tweeting, texting & keep smartphones, laptops out of bedrooms. (#)goodluckwiththat. The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to...
Even with all the high-tech medical tests and procedures that are available today, an accurate family health history remains one of the most important tools in keeping yourself healthy as you age. Here’s what you should know, along with some tips and tools to help get you started.
Health Insurance Marketplace premiums under the Affordable Care Act will be lower than what government officials expected when open enrollment begins October 1, Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, has announced.