How nice to see the New York Times editorial supporting the Global Health Security Agenda and urging the United States Congress to authorize this bill.

A nasty, scary virus.

A nasty, scary virus.

It is important, yes.  There are reminders in the news and incident rates creeping up of neglected diseases as well as viruses most of us don’t know from our childhood, like measles and polio  — but that’s fodder for another blog.

Hugs and praise to the NYT for coming out in favor of investing in prevention of infectious diseases.  Yet I did read the editorial with a sinking feeling of frustration that it cast this Agenda with fear and catastrophe. In worst case scenarios harm from disease can grow to horrific proportions but the reality is slim. Not everyone is at risk and scaring people doesn’t work, or work to the degree that will make  us change our behaviors and practices to make a difference.

Show of hands: Who isn’t exercising enough or is still smoking ,though the public health experts have pounded us over the head with fear campaigns promising that we will die an ugly death if we don’t stop?  Yep, that’s what I thought. We persist, even though research shows that fear theory doesn’t work.

One of my good friends and respected colleagues said neglected tropical diseases lost the marketing battle with its name. It doesn’t instill confidence, does it?

Let’s change things starting with a positive preventative Agenda.  Let’s talk instead about the benefits and value of taking action before we need to go into response mode, rather than attempt to scare the masses. It isn’t correct or fair and, sadly, it misrepresents the benefits of an ounce of prevention.

Dee Bennett

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