Dr Tara Smith interview at Daily Kos
Although I'm not a microbiologist or a public health professional, I do a bit of recreational reading on public health and infectious disease issues. Most of my interest in microorganisms comes instead from the compounds that they make to kill each other and how we might harness them to treat infectious diseases that affect humans. My dabbling in public health issues stems from my reading of two excellent books by Laurie Garrett: The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust.
One of my favorite science bloggers, Dr Tara C Smith at Aetiology, does however have the appropriate background on such issues and was just interviewed at Daily Kos in a post entitled, Guns, Germs & the GOP - a clever spoof on Prof Jared Diamond's book. Tara is a remarkably energetic junior faculty member in epidemiology at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health and writes prolifically on infectious diseases and related issues.
The interview is great and quite instructional on infectious diseases as a national and world security risk. Frankly, failings in public health have been a joint effort of both Democrats and Republicans, although never carried out to such a level as under the current administration.
The problem, as Laurie Garrett has pointed out, public health initiatives rarely garner much political support (nor are politicians pressured by their constituents) because no one ever sees the lives that weren't lost because of effective public health measures. Garrett also presents arguments in her books supporting the notion that the growing chasm between rich and poor can contribute to major pandemics, especially in urban areas.
Tara covers some of these issues in her interview - it's definitely worth a read.
ADDENDUM: Tara reminds me that the interview is not new (3 Feb 06), but I still find it highly worthwhile