Obama Administration Ignores Appeals from Public Health Departments,
As Flu Pandemic Spreads
July 7, 2009 (EIRNS)Despite the official declaration of a worldwide A/H1N1 pandemic made in June by the World Health Organization, dozens of the 3,000 counties across the United States, whose health departments are the front line of bio-defense against disease (vaccinations, disease-surveillance and reporting, food-borne germ testing, sanitation, etc.) have resorted to holding public briefings and issuing press releases to appeal for help, because they are being shut down, in whole or part, under unresolved state budget/economic break-down crises, while the Obama Administration refuses to act, or even to acknowledge the danger.
"Now is not the time to cut the budget and play games with money going to public health...when people's lives are at risk," was the comment by Julie Pryde, the administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Illinois, who on June 25, joined health officials from five other counties for a joint press conference to appeal for assistance on anti-flu defense, and for maintaining general functions. In response, the Obama Administration continues its drive for Hitler-style health-care "reform" to cut services and costs, meaning to cut lives.
One week into the new fiscal year for 46 states, Illinois and other state governments are in straits similar to the "California crisis," where drastic cuts in government functions are underway, while Washington does nothing.
On June 29, the Rock Island County Health Department in Illinoisserving the Quad Cities area on the Mississippi River (Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and East Moline in Illinois) issued a statement that speaks for hundreds of counties cross-country. The Quad Cities region is a key rail and highway transit corridor, home to the Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District, serving the Upper Mississippi Basin, and the world headquarters of the pre-eminent farm equipment manufacturer John Deere & Co.
"The Rock Island County Health Department...[and] local health departments throughout the state have been informed that the entire budget for Health Protection programs has been eliminated.
"Health Protection programs include core public health services such as communicable disease surveillance and control, enforcement programs to ensure that food is safely handled at restaurants and retail outlets, and inspections of private sewage disposal systems and water wells. It doesn't get much more basic than safe food and safe drinking water. These are all programs that are mandated by the state, but carried out by local health departments. An example is the public health role in disease outbreaks such as the recent H1N1 outbreak [in April]. The Rock Island County Health Department led community partners in response activities regarding H1N1. Any cuts would damage the capacity to not only conduct day-to-day responsibilities, but also to be able to respond to unexpected, yet inevitable future events of significant magnitude."
The Illinois state government will take up the question on July 14, of whether and how to restore funding for local public health. Meantime, the A/H1N1 flu is not waiting around. The Chicago/Cook County area, one of the North American A/H1N1 spread points, has had more than 2,100 lab-confirmed cases. Rock Island County itself has confirmed 13 cases.
Other states are in the same situation. In Massachusetts, for example, the town of Worcester now has only two public health nurses, after budget cuts called "draconian" by City Manager Michael V. O'Brien.
Nationwide, some 12,000 public health worker jobs were eliminated last year. Now the rate of elimination has increased.
None of this would have ensued if the emergency policy guidelines from Lyndon LaRouche, issued over the July-September period in 2007, at the start of the crash, had been taken. His "Homeowners and Bank Protection Act" issued then, spells out the principles and measures required to salvage and restore the physical economy; along with international emergency actions for a new credit system to serve nation-states, not globalization. Even at this late hour, it could be done. If not, doomsday is at hand.
In the meantime, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is issuing Potemkin Village-style pandemic-fighting plans, involving coordinating anti-flu vaccination drives this Fall with state and local public health officialswho won't be there.