Tag Archives: public health

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Moving from the Envy of the World to the Puzzle of the World

Dear Research Advocate:

NIH Director Francis Collins was recently interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article that would reinvigorate even the weariest research advocate. Dr. Collins captured the legacy and unprecedented potential of research for health, as well as the counterintuitive neglect of it, in a truly compelling manner. Dr. Collins made similarly captivating comments yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum: “We’re going from the envy of the world,” he said, “to the puzzle of the world. Other nations are mystified that we have stopped following our own playbook — the one they are using now to drive their economy and improve health and quality of life for their own populations.”

Of course they’re mystified. Policy makers are setting Americans up for needless suffering and America up for decline. It’s past time to follow the lead of, for example, the Australian government; despite battling austerity, it has announced an increase in funding for the Australian Research Council’s research grants. And Australia is not alone — China is now on track to overtake U.S. spending (actual spending and as a percentage of GDP) within five years. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Winning Hearts and Minds and Votes

Dear Research Advocate:

It has been a week since the Budget Conference Committee’s first meeting. The next public meeting is scheduled for November 13. Staffs are at work, and various Members are talking. There are no concrete signs of progress. What I keep coming back to is the failure of our nation’s decision makers to recognize and act on the reality that the priorities of Americans are reflected in both discretionary and entitlement programs. The persistence of sequestration underscores Congress’ inability to make decisions and choose priorities. The sequestration era has run its course, dealing Congress record lows in terms of public support; it’s past time to end the era and move on.

Recently I shared my letter to the Budget Conference Committee; it argued for an end to sequestration, pointing out the importance of investing in medical research as a pragmatic strategy for decreasing the national debt and deficit. This week I followed up with a letter on the importance of health research, pointing out how it helps identify smart medical innovation and optimal health care financing and delivery. The letter showcases the essential role of health economics, health services, public health, behavioral and social science research in assuring quality medical innovation and smart health care delivery. We are concerned that if the research stakeholder community at large does not speak out for this critical research, it will be compromised or even defunded altogether. Please join us in raising your voice. Continue reading →

It’s Time to Kick Sequestration to the Curb, Not Down the Road!

Urge your Members to protect medical research in upcoming Budget Conference Committee discussions

Sequestration’s arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts to defense and non-defense spending have ravaged (and will continue to ravage) our research enterprise. The Budget Conference Committee, which was negotiated as part of reopening the government and preventing the U.S. from defaulting on debts, has an opportunity to replace sequestration as they develop their “long-term budget solution” by December 13. Sequestration is rendering it virtually impossible to maintain, much less increase the budgets of NIH, NSF, FDA, and CDC; if it is not stopped, their budgets will almost certainly decline for the next nine years, regardless of scientific opportunity, public health needs, or the preferences of Americans.  Funding cuts are stopping highly promising research in its tracks, squandering exciting new potential for treatments and cures for millions of Americans who are waiting for them.

Deficit reduction is important, but there are ways to achieve it that do not compromise American lives and American competitiveness. Arbitrary budget cuts that abandon medical research are wrong, and it’s time we kicked them to the curb and not down the road!

Take action now.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Is a do-nothing Congress a public health threat?

Dear Research Advocate:

Last week, I wrote about the international trade deficit our country faces. This week, I’d like to focus on the budget deficit. From 2003 to 2011, Medicare and Medicaid spending grew 74% while our economy only grew 35%. With that kind of differential, no government can balance its budget. We need research to address disabling and costly illnesses, but that won’t be enough in and of itself to bridge the gap. We also need tax and entitlement reform that preserves needed services, squeezes out waste and inefficiency (by the way, that’s why we must also fight to protect health economics research, health services research and other research that optimizes health care financing and delivery) and promotes pro-innovation tax changes that are designed to sustain a prosperous nation.

One vocal advocate for a long-term view of the steps our nation must take to secure human and economic progress, including committing to ample and stable public support for medical research, is The Honorable John Porter, Research!America chair and former U.S. representative. He recently penned an op-ed published on CNN.com and elsewhere titled “A do-nothing Congress isn’t healthy.” Mr. Porter makes it clear that we must “view research through the prism of future generations” to properly set a legislative course towards prosperity and good health, and we must not delay. Continue reading →

The sequester’s a public health hazard

Excerpt of an op-ed by columnist George F. Will, published in The Washington Post.

“The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.”

— Lewis Thomasgeorge_will

The pedigree of human beings, Thomas wrote, probably traces to a single cell fertilized by a lightning bolt as the Earth was cooling. Fortunately, genetic “mistakes” — mutations — eventually made us. But they also have made illnesses. Almost all diseases arise from some combination of environmental exposures and genetic blunders in the working of DNA. Breast cancer is a family of genetic mutations.

The great secret of doctors, wrote Thomas — who was a physician, philosopher and head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — “is that most things get better by themselves; most things, in fact, are better in the morning.” But many things require intelligent interventions — cures. So, to see the federal government at its best, and sequester-driven spending cuts at their worst, visit the 322 acres where 25,000 people work for the National Institutes of Health.

This 60th anniversary of the Clinical Center, the NIH’s beating heart, is inspiriting and depressing: Public health is being enhanced — rapidly, yet unnecessarily slowly — by NIH-supported research here, and in hundreds of institutions across the country, into new drugs, devices and treatments. Yet much research proposed by extraordinarily talented physicians and scientists cannot proceed because the required funding is prevented by the intentional irrationality by which the sequester is administered. Continue reading →

Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Public Health and Prevention

Know someone who is doing extraordinary things to improve public health in your community? Nominate them (before Friday, August 9) as a Champion of Change for Prevention and Public Health.

The champion’s work may involve:

  • Supporting community and clinical prevention efforts to address chronic disease, increase education and outreach, and integrate primary and behavioral health;
  • Creating healthy and safe communities by promoting healthier schools, homes and workplaces that make the healthy choice the easy choice;
  • Working to address health disparities and empower all Americans to make healthy choices by addressing health concerns that disproportionately affect certain populations;
  • Strengthening public health infrastructure and improving public health’s capacity to detect and control disease and other threats;
  • Increasing the uptake of important preventive services; and
  • Promoting tobacco prevention.

“We know that efforts to promote the public’s health and prioritize prevention happen in America’s towns and cities, in schools and parks, in churches and community centers. Every day, local leaders across America’s communities are stepping up in big ways to make sure all Americans have the opportunity to live a healthy life,” said Paul Dioguardi, director, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a communication.

Winners will be invited to the White House in September to celebrate their accomplishments and showcase their actions to support healthier communities.

If you have any questions, email ExternalAffairs@hhs.gov.

The 4th Annual Unsung Heroes of Public Health Awards

CPH

The nominations for the CPH Foundation Fourth Annual Unsung Heroes of Public Health Awards are now open. These awards highlight the return on investment of the nation’s behind-the-scenes disease control and prevention efforts, applaud the staff who run them, and educate policy makers and others about how public health works to save lives, prevent injuries, limit disease outbreaks – and so much more. The awards ceremony will take place December 4, 2013.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the following awards:

  • The Rock in the Pond Award recognizes an individual for outstanding work on a community-based or state-wide public health effort that produced significant positive health outcomes. Past winners of this award include Wade Norwood (2012), Dr. Luis Garcia (2011) and Janet Zola (2010).
  • The Wavemaker Award recognizes a visionary whose work on a large-scale multi-state, regional, national or international public health program has successfully impacted a major public health challenge. Past winners of this award include Matt McDaniel (2012), Dr. Lynn Silver-Chalfin (2011) and Dr. Cecilia Rosales (201). Continue reading →

Join us for a 4th of July Congressional Recess Social Media Engagement Week, July 1-5

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

As July 4th approaches, we have another opportunity to contact elected officials via social media during the Congressional recess (July 1 – 5) to drive home the message that medical innovation should be protected from further cuts.

Each day we will highlight a specific theme that can be customized with your statistics and patient/researcher stories. For example, on Wednesday we’ll focus on the drug discovery pipeline because basic research fuels private sector innovation which translates into new diagnostics, devices and products to improve the health of all Americans.

Follow us on Twitter @ResearchAmerica and use the hashtag #curesnotcuts to join in the national conversation. We will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and we encourage you to engage your representatives on Facebook and Twitter as well. Please take time out of your holiday weekend to help make medical and health research a higher national priority. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Champions at work, advocates at the ready

Dear Research Advocate,

Senators Casey (D-PA) and Burr (R-NC), recently honored with our Whitehead Award for Research Advocacy, have joined forces again with a bipartisan letter calling for a strong commitment to NIH funding in FY 14. Please take a moment now to urge your senators to sign on to this letter. And say thank you to Senators Burr and Casey for being champions for research!

In past letters, I’ve written about attempts by Congress to micromanage and in some cases, attack critical components of our nation’s research portfolio. The social sciences have been targeted time and time again despite the immense value of these programs and the return on investment they represent. In response, the NSF has released a report, “How Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research Addresses National Challenges.” It will prove useful in your advocacy for these important avenues of research. Next week, COSSA invites you to a briefing on the role social sciences play in improving our response to national disasters – a topic that seems more relevant than ever in light of recent events.

Meanwhile, there has been yet another blow to our nation’s public health capacity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has recently been in the news as a first responder to the emergence in China of a human strain of a potentially deadly flu previously found only in animals, reportedly received another fiscal year 2013 funding cut. This $374 million cut, the result of a decision by the Administration to execute a shift in funding away from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, is just the most recent of a series of devastating budget cuts to CDC, an agency with a broad and important mission held back by a tiny budget. The nation at large won’t notice the diminution of CDC until the next public health disaster strikes home; and by then, it could be too late. For more information and suggestions for advocacy, contact the Campaign for Public Health Foundation. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A thorn-laden rose

Dear Research Advocate,

The President’s budget is out and it’s a mixed bag. First, the good news. NSF was given a significant funding boost, $593M over 2012 levels, NIH funding was increased by $470M, and AHRQ, via budget trade-offs, looks to have been boosted by $64M. The increases are from FY12 to FY14, since the President’s budget replaces sequestration in a different way than either Congressional body (see more below). The not so good news in the President’s budget is that other health research agencies did not fare well. The CDC budget was cut deeply, especially prevention programs. FDA was essentially flat -funded. And entitlement-reform may pose a challenge to innovation.

The different ways the three budgets, President, Senate and House, deal with sequestration is symptomatic of the continuing failure to reach agreement on anything resembling comprehensive legislation, including so-called “grand bargains.” The fact that there is so much attention to medical research in the President’s budget, as well as on the floor of the Senate recently, and from a number of Members of Congress, speaks to the progress the research advocacy community is making in bringing medical research to the forefront. But success to date has not diminished the need for heightened advocacy for public health and social sciences research, nor the imperative of carefully evaluating the full consequences of changes to entitlements. The three budgets deal with entitlements in different ways, but with similar ill-effect when it comes to innovation. There is no question that we need tax and entitlement reform, and no question that sequestration must be eliminated; however, we cannot thrive as a nation or succeed at deficit reduction if entitlement reforms come at the expense of private sector innovation.  See our statement on the President’s budget here.

Speaking of social science research — so clearly under fire —  it is not too late to RSVP to a Capitol Hill briefing we are co-hosting tomorrow on economic research. There is a terrific lineup of speakers.

I know many of you attended the Rally for Medical Research on Monday here in Washington,  a coalition effort led by the AACR. Thousands of like-minded research advocates and a wonderful array of speakers, including our board chair, The Honorable John Porter, gathered to crank up the volume for research. In his remarks, Mr. Porter urged advocates to get fighting mad or we risk continued cuts from Congress. Review his remarks here; then, take a moment to participate in the Rally’s on-going text messaging campaign to urge Congress to assign a high priority to medical research. You can view press coverage of the event and the full list of speakers. During the event, social media attention was strong — messaging trended #2 globally on Twitter.  That’s the level of volume and attention we must continue to maintain if we want to see a happy ending to budget negotiations.  Please do your part!

More than 50 Nobel laureates are doing their part; they have joined forces to send a letter to Congress urging them to fund, rather than freeze or cut, research and development. In the letter, the Laureates cite their deep concern over reduced funding levels and the negative impact this will have on the next generation of scientists and ultimately, upon our nation’s economic vitality. It’s a good reminder that the full science community is in this battle together.  Take a moment now to echo their message by urging your representative to sign on the Markey-McKinley letter calling for a $1.5B boost to NIH funding. Click here to see the list of current signers. If your representative is on the list, be sure to thank them for standing up for research. If they haven’t signed-on yet, click here to send them a message.

On Monday, we released our latest national poll, focused on chronic pain and drug addiction. Surprisingly, only 18% of the poll respondents believe chronic pain is a major health problem, yet two-thirds know someone who has sought relief from chronic pain. Huge majorities are concerned about  abuse or misuse of prescription medications; the need for better understanding of how to address chronic pain literally cries out for research. You can view our media release here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

CDC Responds to H7N9 Outbreak in China

On April 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in response to the H7N9 influenza outbreak in China. H7N9 is the newest bird flu virus and has killed 8 and infected 20 other individuals in China. No cases have been found outside China, but the global health community, including CDC, is concerned because this is the first time this type of bird flu has been found in humans. Continue reading →

New avian flu strain garners close attention from U.S. health agencies

The public health community is on alert over a new strain of avian flu that has made the jump from birds to people, resulting in six confirmed deaths in China.

“At this point it’s a matter of anxious waiting and good surveillance,” Research!America Board member Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Politico Pro.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are joining forces with other international researchers to track this new strain, H7N9. Thus far, the only infected individuals appear to have come into direct contact with sick birds, indicating that currently this new strain cannot be passed from person to person. Should the virus mutate and gain the ability to jump from one person to another, health officials will have a potentially dangerous situation on their hands. Continue reading →

National Public Health Week Twitter Chat: April 3 at 2PM

Join the American Public Health Association for a live Twitter chat at 2pm ET on Wednesday, April 3 as part of the activities for National Public Health Week. Engage with fellow public health advocates on important topics you care about. The hour-long chat will focus on the value of public health and its return on investment in our communities. Follow #NPHWchat on Twitter to participate in the discussion about ways in which evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion initiatives can save lives and money.  You can also follow National Public Health Week  and Research!America on Twitter.

It’s National Public Health Week

April 1-7 is National Public Health Week. The theme for NPHW this year highlights the return on investment we all get from public health initiatives. Resources from the American Public Health Association outline a unique focus for each day this week to show how multifaceted public health issues are impacting our lives at home, at school, in the workplace, while we travel and in our communities.

How does public health help you? Continue reading →

Speak up or Watch out: Why medical research is at risk with Sequestration

It’s all over the news: The federal government is headed for significant, across-the-board budget cuts. Sequestration, or 10 years of automatic spending cuts, is a self-inflicted consequence passed by Congress, aimed to be a drastic outcome of failing to agree on a federal deficit-reduction package. Some Members of Congress argue that the sequester will not have a significant impact; they claim that the 5.1% cuts made in 2013 are only a drop in the bucket and there is no need to worry. However, the amount of money that the National Institutes of Health will lose, $1.56 billion, could fund the entire National Institute of Mental Health for more than a year. Cuts to the National Science Foundation total $359 million, more than 80% of the entire FY12 budget from NSF for homeland security research, including emergency planning and response. Research!America’s fact sheet on the effects of sequestration on these agencies, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control can be found here.

What will cuts to NIH, NSF and other agencies mean to biomedical and health research?

The NIH and NSF fund the basic science that fuels medical innovation and the health services research that enables smart policy making by all levels of government and by health care providers in support of high-quality health care delivery. The CDC funds an enormous range of research and public health services essential to the basic health and safety of Americans. Cuts to these agencies will compromise medical progress, stymie deficit reduction and render it more difficult to reinvigorate our economy. Cuts to public health funding, which is already inadequate, will degrade the foundation for safe and healthy communities across our nation. In short, these cuts will have dramatic impact on the health of our nation. Polls commissioned by Research!America consistently show that Americans highly value medical research and would even pay higher taxes if they knew the dollars would be devoted to that research. And we will never bend the health care cost curve without medical research to overcome disabling and costly conditions like Alzheimer’s and health services research to identify and evaluate viable and patient-sensitive cost savings strategies.

Finally, cuts to funding for biomedical and health research jeopardize the product of years of investment in our nation’s research capabilities. Those investments have produced the most sophisticated and productive medical research enterprise in the world. If funding declines, so will opportunities for young scientists. So will the capacity for our nation’s researchers to break new ground. So will the pipeline that fuels private sector innovation and jobs.

Think about it: Advances in ongoing and promising medical research will invariably be halted due to a lack of funds for these projects. One such project is ongoing research at Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC. There, researchers have worked for years on a preventative strategy for breast cancer focused on anti-estrogen treatment, and this work is ready to move into clinical trials. Without funding, this lifesaving research could be halted. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the frequency of metastatic breast cancer is on the rise in young women, a troubling trend in light of the threat to biomedical and health research funding.

So what can we do?

Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them how important it is to STOP sequestration! Click here to send an email now.

Sign the petition from AAAS to “Speak Up for Science.”

Share these resources with your professional network, and encourage your peers to speak up for research now!