Political Agendas and Our Health at Odds

  • I believe good health is every U.S. citizen's right. Of course, no one can guarantee that we will not contract a disease or encounter an accident that messes with our health. But once we do get sick, shouldn't we have every means to recover or regain our health?


    I think so. It's why I advocate for free health care for people with asthma. For such an epidemic, chronic disease, access to care is an absolute essential.


    This site is not the place to debate the merits of our political leaders and their world policy decisions. But news reports all across the Web today are telling a rather disturbing tale about our US government's interference with the good health of our country.

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    Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona has been testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week. He told the panel that top Bush officials worked to water down or even block important public health reports because of political considerations.


    Issues not adequately reported to the public included:

    • stem cells
    • emergency contraception
    • sex education
    • other mental and global health issues

    A landmark report on the dangers of secondhand smoke was delayed for years. The report, which finally came to light last year, warned that even brief exposure to tobacco smoke could be harmful to the heart and lungs.


    Carmona said he was also forced to mention President Bush repeatedly in his speeches and to speak in support of other Republican political candidates.


    Talk about abuse of power. When political agendas take precedence over scientific ones, it's a sad day for our country. And Carmona isn't the first one to report such goings on. According to the NY Times article, "a growing list of present and former administration officials charge that politics often trumped science within what had previously been largely nonpartisan government health and scientific agencies."


    However, in fairness, it's important to note that the Bush administration is not the first to interfere with the work of the Surgeon General. Surgeon Generals from both the Reagan and Clinton administrations also faced political pressure to soft pedal certain health issues.


    And Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the administration disagreed with Dr. Carmona's statements. "It has always been this administration's position that public health policy should be rooted in sound science," Mr. Hall said.


    Why is this important to my asthmatic readers? I think it points to the changes in our modern world. At a time when science is advancing at more rapid rates than ever before, for some reason, certain politicians

    want to keep the American public in the dark. It's a call to action for each of us.


    Asthma is an important disease. Much progress has been made, but more is needed. Talk to your local and state political representatives. Make your voice heard. Join asthma advocacy organizations. Take a stand for change. We can't let our government get away with treating our health as a secondary agenda to be sacrificed to political agendas. The future health of our country depends on each of us.

Published On: July 11, 2007