Top Doc Says Ebola Shows Skewed Priorities

By Amitabh Pal on October 17, 2014 for The Progressive

The Ebola crisis has revealed severe deficiencies in how the American health care system works, experts say.

Dr. Walter Tsou, past president of the American Public Health Association and the former health commissioner for Philadelphia, says that the Ebola crisis shows the skewed priorities of the U.S. health care system.

“Our chronic disease-oriented health care system is ill-equipped to address an acute infectious disease outbreak,” Dr. Tsou, a board adviser to Physicians for a National Health Program, tells The Progressive. “We don’t have enough biocontainment units, sufficiently trained experts on how to control for highly infectious disease agents, trained sanitation crews who can clean up and properly handle waste disposal.”

Tsou says that the Ebola epidemic has uncovered big flaws in the global health system, too.

“We have known about Ebola since 1976 and yet we still have no vaccine or treatment,” he points out. “The fact that we are now scrambling to find some type of vaccine and  treatment only speaks to the paucity of research that we have invested in the developing world. In the cruel economics of the pharmaceutical industry, unless the drugs promise a significant return on investment, they are unwilling to invest in it essentially condemning most of the developing world.”

The Ebola crisis has also made apparent the impact of drastic health budget cuts. Bloomberg News reports that there’s been a nearly one-fifth reduction in public health employees at the state and local levels in just the last six years, with 60,000 fewer people employed than in 2008. This manifests itself in many ways.

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