Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Public Health Malpractice: The Ebola Fiasco

CDC Tweeting This Morning
This blog covers science. Public health is very much a science when it is properly practiced. Tragically, the U.S. government seems to be making it up as it goes along when it comes to Ebola. The fact the second health worker now confirmed to have Ebola was allowed to fly after being exposed is nothing but public health malpractice. Unfortunately, this has been the rule, not the exception, since this outbreak began.

Some background: I am an investor and adviser in a company called AscelBio. Our mission is to predict disease outbreaks in much the same way as meteorologists predict storms with the same goals of saving lives and money. There is good news and bad news:
  • Good news: We are good at what we do. Our forecasts have real skill.
  • Bad news: We are encountering the same governmental resistance as commercial meteorology did a half-century ago. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  and other government agencies are actively working against us as did the Weather Bureau in the 1950's and 60's
I was present when we briefed high-level officials in Washington, DC, in June. We told them Ebola had catastrophic potential and, yes, strongly encouraged them to hire us. They declined. We now know the results. 

In fact, the CDC and Department of Homeland Security (now focusing on climate change!) seem to be spending more time blocking our work than properly responding to the crisis. The medical community is crying out for help, saying the U.S. is not prepared. Don't believe that? Go here.

We have stayed under the radar because we have tried to work within the system to improve the outcome. We have given away a great deal of free service because we wish to be good public citizens. Now, it is time to let the people of the U.S. know the extent to which our government is failing them. As Ascel's COO James Wilson, MD, wrote earlier today:

Politicalization of these issues has not helped us identify solutions to the rapidly expanding problem in West Africa.  This author began his life's work under the Clinton Administration and later worked with the Bush Administration.  It should be obvious to any sane world citizen that "political health" should not be engaged, but rather "public health".  As discussed above, there is much shenanigans, information suppression, and politics that are interfering with this country's ability to execute the capabilities needed to protect us.
Meanwhile, 76 healthcare workers in Dallas await their fates.

The fact the CDC is using Twitter to try to contact people that should have been treated at the time of exposure in a compassionate but firm manner (i.e., restricting travel, etc.) is just a small indication at how bad the situation has become. Jim has written much more here

Ebola is not easily spread. But, it can be spread when infected people are let into the country and correct protocols are not followed when interacting with an infected man or woman. Unless the Administration stops attempting to practice politically correct public health, we are in for serious trouble. 

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