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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Are Twenty Million Dead Children Enough to Illustrate the Insanity of Cutting Budgets for Science an

Yesterday, Paul Krugman used his NYT column to tee off on the failure of the Republican budget "plan" to acknowledge that health care costs drive long-term many budget disasters, and the system is not fixing itself. The lesson really should be simple to grasp – just look at the various bankrupt car companies, or any state that can’t pay its health care bills.

Some simple truths are that health care costs are enormous, and science provides ways to reduce the human losses and economic costs. For example, as is detailed below, perhaps 20 million children across the globe have died from pneumococcal diseases easily prevented by vaccines. That stunning number is but one illustrations of the insanity of the Republican axe-wielding "budget plan" that reduces investment in science and impoverished nations. TSimply put, the "plan" is economically backwards and completely lacks compassion.

In fact, investing in science produces major returns on investment in both human and economic turns. For example, investing in vaccines for kids overseas will save and improve lives, millions of them, thus avoiding money wasted on needless health care and all the attendant time and effort invested in caring for a profoundly sick person. And, investing in science produces jobs and other results here and abroad – someone has to make and deliver all the vaccines that are today are not made and are not delivered.

Part of the story is presented in this article from a group funded by the Gates Foundation. The group is BIO Ventures for Global Health. The group’s leaders are birght people, and its website provides a compelling list of "neglected diseases" and opportunities for social and business progress through a focus on opportunities related to the neglected diseases. The group describes itself with this introduction:

"The developing world is in the midst of an ongoing health tragedy. Millions of people in poor countries die every year from potentially treatable diseases—because the medicines to treat those diseases are inaccessible, outdated, unsafe, ineffective, or simply have not yet been created.

BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives by accelerating the development of novel biotechnology-based drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to address the unmet medical needs of the developing world. BVGH has a unique perspective – we are able to look at the health problems facing poor countries through a dual lens of expertise in both global health and the biopharmaceutical industry."

The group’s entire story deserves reading and support. Here’s the key statistic from one article that perhaps will provide motivation for all of us to demand intelligent budget decisions and support investing in science:

"For decades children in poor countries have received vaccines only after they had been on the market for 20 years or more; when they were off patent and thus available at commodity pricing. If you apply this standard wait time to pneumococcal disease, which kills about a million children a year, 20 million poor children would die needlessly while children in rich countries were protected by very good vaccines."

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