We have previously discussed how Congress and the White House continues to spend hundreds of billions on foreign wars without pause but have failed to address an emerging global threat to humanity: antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It is part of the lunacy that governs this nation. We spend wildly on wars while largely ignoring a threat that could endanger the entire population. Recently, Thomas Frieden, director of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, put it in the starkest terms to try to get someone to pay attention. Indeed, Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, has warned that we are moving into a “post-antibiotic era.” That means “an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”
The CDC has been presenting data on the rise of bacteria resistance to carbapenems, the most powerful antibiotics that represent our final line of defense. CDC is reporting the appearance of the bacteria now in every state and what it describes as the realization of the “nightmare” scenario for the medical field. Frieden puts the estimate now at over 2 million Americans with infections each year that are resistant to antibiotics. Of those, at least 23,000 people die as a result. To get perspective, we have been waging wars for over ten years at a cost of over a trillion dollars after 3000 were killed by Islamic fanatics. Almost ten times that number are dying each year from this crisis and we are looking at an exponential increase. Yet, few members of Congress have even mentioned this threat or the need for a “war on resistant bacteria.” It just doesn’t get you the same popularity and votes as demanding more defense appropriations. While money has been gradually increased in recent years, it is still a fraction of our appropriations given to pork projects and war efforts.
In the meantime, our politicians will do what they have repeatedly done: they will ignore the warnings and wait for a pandemic. We make fun of the Taliban barring vaccinations, but do relatively little in the face of the loss of antibiotics that are the backbone of modern medicine.
Once we are faced with a rising death toll, they will suddenly act and spend wildly long after the point where the crisis might have been avoided. After all, who needs modern medicine when there are wars yet to be fought. Members only recently expressed frustration in facing public opposition to entering the Syrian war. Bacteria research does not feed the massive lobby in Washington behind defense contracts or produce photo ops in front of ship launchings. Indeed, preventing a crisis does not give you any immediate political benefits. They know that they will not be blamed for the crisis that could have been avoided and can cite to past appropriations as evidence that they did something, albeit not much. They did relatively little to stop the use of antibiotics in livestock or the overuse of antibiotics by physicians that have fueled drug-resistant bacteria. After all, the agricultural lobby is an immediate threat. A pandemic is still an abstraction.
Besides, modern medicine is so last century.
Source: Washington Post