Money Well Spent

Money Well Spent

Last week was the yearly Infectious Disease meeting, ID Week. No better way to learn than to sit in cold, dark rooms listening to my betters read me PowerPoint slides. Ebola was a topic of last week and the information I gleaned at the meeting has been helpful since returning home.

Since coming home I have spent a reasonable amount of time in meetings preparing for Ebola. Given the long odds that a real case of Ebola will end up in the backwaters of the Pacific Northwest, we seem to be spending a lot of time and energy on a disease we will never see. It is kind of like spending a lot of time preparing for retirement by planning on winning Powerball (odds are about 1 in 170,000,000). On the other hand we have to be ready as occasionally someone does win Powerball and we can't be caught with out HAZMAT suits down.

I have always practiced medicine in an environment where lack of funding has limited my ability to provide care for patients. It seems to be better in the last few years with less uninsured patients. Still, lack of funding can limit what can be done for people and populations.

I was struck by the headline "NIH director: Ebola vaccine could be ready by now if not for budget austerity."

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an NIH division that deals with viruses, has taken a hit with the recent belt tightening. The budget for that subcomponent dropped by about $50 million between 2004 and 2013.

Fifty million is a lot of money that could have been used to develop a vaccine in the US. At least the Canadians were not that shortsighted. I wonder if those studies could have been funded by other sources?

I am well aware that if money is not spent by one part of government it doesn’t mean that the money is now available for use in other parts of the government. Still I am saddened when I read

"NIH data show that funding for NCCAM research projects has climbed from $54.3 million in 2000 to $97.6 million in 2014."

Just about what we would have needed for an Ebola vaccine.  So much money wasted on nonsense and real therapies are unfunded. We can see the consequences.

Points of Interest: 10/14/2014
Points of Interest 10/12/2014