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‘Robust Health Planning’ Critical To Avoiding Infectious Disease Outbreaks During Economic Downturns

STAT: Mosquitoes — and diseases like Zika — flourish when economies tank
Amy K. Liebman, director of environmental and occupational health for the Migrant Clinicians Network

“…Serious public health challenges often flourish in struggling economies because the habits and movements of people change. Yet health authorities rarely treat migration as a marker of public health concern. … Economic downturns … can affect the transmission of infectious diseases not only because of cuts in public health funding but because of changing economic conditions which affect on-the-ground transmission of diseases. … While we can’t always anticipate how an economic slump will fuel infectious disease, we should ensure that we have robust health planning in place. Our lack of foresight is most obvious in that we seem to have ceased considering public health needs as ongoing, long-term, inevitable, and constantly shifting. In the U.S., we don’t have enough resources to be reactive, let alone proactive. In addition to improving our responses to public health emergencies, we must provide long-term funding to let public health authorities take into account the changing nature of human behavior in response to economic changes. The health of all of us depends on it” (10/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.