PUBLIC HEALTH….Lorelei Kelly says we’re screwed:

On Monday, I was visiting a friend in the House of Representatives….While sitting there, I noticed the [receptionist] open a pack of wall posters from the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University. They were handsome, instructive public health posters about how to recognize bird flu and what to do about it. My mom is a public health nurse, so I looked at them covetously and then watched with dismay as ? PLOP ? they went into the garbage can.

….Throwing the posters into the trash pretty much symbolizes how Congress has responded to new security issues since the end of the Cold War. Global threats in particular just don’t fit into the antique structure of Congress, and because they don’t fit into the jurisdictions of existing committees, they fall between the cracks. This is particularly true of trans-national security issues.

….The Senate passed legislation on Thursday to add $4 billion to fight avian flu. This money was tacked onto the defense appropriations bill for 2006. Now, I think that’s great, but why can’t we fund a solid and generous public health system like most normal countries? Countries where public health is a high priority are far better prepared and defended against global pandemics and biological terrorism. Why does avian flu only get the urgency it deserves on a defense bill during wartime? Something is wrong with this picture.

Preach it, sister. Avian flu may or may not mutate into a dangerous pandemic, but why not fund a modern public health system regardless? After all, we’re bound to need it someday.

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