The Republican fetish with starving government has helped land West Africa in an Ebola crisis. The director of the National Institutes of Health made that clear
when he told Huffington Post that steep budget cuts by Congress has set back the institute's work on both prevention and treatment for the disease and that if it hadn't been for a decade's worth of cuts, "we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."
It's not just the NIH that's suffered, and it's not just in Africa where the cuts are harming people. The Center for Disease Control's emergency preparedness budget has been nearly cut in half in just the past seven years. That means preparation at home. That means that local health departments in this country don't have the funding—or the staff—they need to do the necessary preparation and training to deal with any epidemic. Judy Stone, MD is an infectious disease specialist, details the cuts at Scientific American.
The CDC’s discretionary funding was cut by $585 million during [2010-14]. Shockingly, annual funding for the CDC’s public health preparedness and response efforts were $1 billion lower for 2013 fiscal year than for 2002. These funding decreases have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments since 2008. Again, it is not just the Ebola that is a looming threat. We need to worry about vaccine-preventable but neglected infections like influenza, measles, and whooping cough; the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters.
Just let that sink in a bit. $1 billion less for infectious disease control in 2013 than in 2002. The problems in the Texas hospital that led to one of the nursing staff contracting the disease could potentially have been prevented if the local public health infrastructure had the funding and the staff it needs to deal with a serious health public health threat. Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to screech that it's all Obama's fault and will do everything they can to terrify Americans about the (highly unlikely) Ebola epidemic at home.
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Keep all this in mind the next time you hear some Republican fearmongering about Ebola. Their destructive budget cutting is killing people.