US Opinion and Commentary

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This Is how the U.S. Must Lead the Fight Against Zika

Posted July 19th, 2016 at 12:18 pm (UTC-4)
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The world is not mounting a sufficient operational response to Zika in the South and Central American countries that are at risk. Brazil, Colombia and other nations are not applying the scale of resources required to rapidly reduce transmission. Within a year, Puerto Rico could have hundreds of cases of microcephaly, leading to disastrous consequences…

Zika Is Coming, but We’re Far From Ready

Posted May 23rd, 2016 at 1:02 pm (UTC-4)
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Zika is not “coming” to the United States: It is already here….It is not a question of whether babies will be born in the United States with Zika-related microcephaly — it is a question of when and how many.

Zika’s Budget Bite

Posted May 19th, 2016 at 6:03 pm (UTC-4)
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While there is near unanimity about the dangers posed by the Zika virus, there’s a political split over funding the fight against it.
President Barack Obama sent Congress a request in February for $1.9 billion in emergency funding “to respond to Zika virus transmission across the United States and internationally.”
Tuesday, the Senate approved a $1.1 billion Zika funding measure. Late Wednesday, the House of Representatives said yes to $622 million, a little more than half of what the Senate passed and about one-third of what the President asked. The White House says it will continue to press for its full request.
As the two houses of Congress try to find common ground on how much to spend, the disease is already making inroads into U.S. territory.
On Friday, a pregnant Puerto Rican woman’s fetus was determined to have developed microcephaly, the birth defect associated with Zika, becoming the first American so diagnosed.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control estimates hundreds of thousands in Puerto Rico will be infected by the Zika virus this year.
There will be more. Summer travel plans are being changed. Decisions to send young American athletes to the Olympics in Brazil are being scrutinized. And some couples are questioning whether it’s a good time to get pregnant.
All of that will be part of the political calculations of a public health crisis going forward.

Pain of Opioids

Posted May 11th, 2016 at 5:13 pm (UTC-4)
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Opioid addiction is now considered an epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control says the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids — prescribed painkillers and heroin — increased 200 percent between 2000 and 2014. 47,055 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014. 61 percent involved opioids. Increasingly, the abuse of prescription opioids are seen as a gateway to heroin use.
The Congress is acting. The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to fight the epidemic in March. Tuesday, the House began passing a series of bills aimed at doing the same thing.
Pain is deeply personal issue. Is it physical or emotional? What’s your pain threshold? What medicine will work best?
The question now: is the cure killing more than just the pain?

Nearing Triumph Over Ebola

Posted December 30th, 2015 at 9:27 am (UTC-4)
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Stopping the Ebola virus, despite the late start and the huge challenge of working in countries with woefully poor health systems, was an example of what the world can do once it acknowledges an emergency and provides the resources needed to save lives.

World Polio Day: How Far We’ve Come, What’s Left to Do

Posted October 23rd, 2015 at 9:20 am (UTC-4)
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Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Today, on World Polio Day, we honor the sacrifices of the many people around the world who have brought us to a unique point in history: the brink of polio elimination.