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Doctors In: Public Health in Focus

Public health plays second fiddle to politics. The current TB outbreak, meningitis due to tainted injectables, and illnesses attributed to cantaloupes exemplifies compromised regulatory programs.

On the heels of a poor public health response to a recent Tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville, 19 new cases were recently discovered. West Nile Virus is making a comeback and tainted cantaloupes somehow missed the eye of inspectors.

Currently meningitis cases resulting from tainted injectables found their way into pain clinics, many of them in Florida. On both state and national levels resources have dried up and marginalized important inspection programs.  With fewer staff and more concern about industry publicity than public health we are seeing more preventable public health disease putting citizens at risk.

Florida has compromised its health department with the exodus of talented health officials over the past year and the replacement of questionably trained individuals more concerned about loyalty to the governor than public health. Add to this weakened regulatory authority and you have the perfect storm for trouble.

Unfortunately, it takes preventable outbreaks like the TB disaster in Duval County to grab the attention of a politically run department of health. The result is an official rush to show interest in concerns that threaten Florida communities. Hopefully that attention is not fleeting.

The assault on public health can be tied directly to the "No New Tax" mantra that has decimated not only public health but other Federal, State, and Local services. They are more apt to be chopped rather than favored programs depending on whose politics dominate.

The solution lies in shoring up government services, not tearing them down.  We will see more TB, more health uninsured, more tainted injectables until voters and elected officials put community ahead of politics.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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