Friday, October 19, 2007

Public Health, filtered

George Bush has issued a strategy for public health and medical preparedness. It's supposed to deal with biohazards arising from natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Since it was written by specialists, most of it sounds sensible. But it's still strange when set against the last 6 years. For example --

The United States has made significant progress in public health and medical preparedness since 2001, but we remain vulnerable to events that threaten the health of large populations. The attacks of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina were the most significant recent disasters faced by the United States, yet casualty numbers were small in comparison to the 1995 Kobe earthquake; the 2003 Bam, Iran, earthquake; the 2004 Sumatra tsunami; and what we would expect from a 1918-like influenza pandemic or large-scale WMD attack.

No mention of the one actual man-made biohazard attack on the US, the anthrax letters.

Then, in amid the common sense parts --

Present public health and medical preparedness plans incorporate the concept of “surging” existing medical and public health capabilities in response to an event that threatens a large number of lives. The assumption that conventional public health and medical systems can function effectively in catastrophic health events has, however, proved to be incorrect in real-world situations.

A "Surge", if you will, doesn't work in the face of large scale risks? Say it ain't so!

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