Opinion: Presidential candidates ought to be prepared to debate plans for infectious ailments

As the legion of Democratic presidential candidates face off this week, they are going to be addressing an viewers that ranks well being as a number one concern. A Kaiser Household Basis ballot of Democrats and independents leaning in the direction of Democrats printed earlier this month discovered that well being care tops the problems they need to hear about.

Infectious ailments may get misplaced within the shuffle over entry to well being care, excessive drug costs, and well being disparities, however they shouldn’t.

As a rustic, we face the resurgence of measles, the longest flu season in a decade, infectious ailments linked to the opioid epidemic, the rising problem of antibiotic-resistant infections, and rising public well being threats such because the Zika virus. Residing in a world drawn nearer by commerce and journey heightens the issues posed by infectious ailments. These points ought to be on the minds of all voters and presidential candidates.


The debates are being held in Miami. Town and its surrounding area spotlight lots of the well being challenges dealing with People at present. As an infectious ailments specialist training within the metropolis, I see many sufferers who’ve preventable infectious ailments and/or infections with  restricted therapy choices difficult by delays in accessing care or limits positioned on their therapy choices.

Miami is a metropolis enriched by a various inhabitants, which provides alternatives for the unfold of illness and an urgency to addressing public threats confronting all People. It’s residence to retirement communities with growing older populations weak to infections. Additionally it is a world journey hub the place by way of tourism, enterprise, and immigration folks frequently arrive from locations missing satisfactory sources to forestall, detect, and reply to infectious outbreaks.

Throughout America, related components have led to a resurgence of measles imported from elsewhere and fueled domestically by misinformation. In Miami, like different cities and cities throughout the nation,  infections are rising immune to many first and second-line antibiotics and proceed to unfold whereas therapy choices run out. An estimated 2 million People develop antibiotic-resistant infections annually and, in line with the latest estimates, they kill as much as 162,000 folks within the U.S. alone. It’s a problem the candidates ought to be ready to debate and supply methods to forestall the unfold of infections, defend the antibiotics we now have by way of applicable utilization, and supply incentives for the event of desperately wanted new antibiotics.

Miami’s local weather and placement facilitate native outbreaks of rising international ailments. Florida was one in every of simply two states to see native transmission of Zika in 2016. The outbreak was one other reminder of the significance of continued and sturdy help for the analysis and growth of latest and fast diagnostic expertise in addition to the necessity for a educated infectious ailments workforce. All presidential candidates ought to have plans to guard People with investments within the instruments and specialists wanted to detect and reply to new public well being threats.

Miami-Dade County, together with Broward and Palm Seaside counties, are among the many U.S. “geographic hotspots” — counties that accounted for greater than 50% of HIV diagnoses in recent times. These counties have been focused by the Trump administration’s initiative to finish HIV transmission within the subsequent 10 years. The initiative has each probability of success, however will depend upon eliminating boundaries to main care well being companies and would require insurance policies supporting the inclusion of populations weak to infectious ailments, together with foreign-born people, folks with substance use issues, and people with continual well being situations. Candidates ought to be ready to debate plans to enhance entry to, and consciousness of well being care companies.

Sustained U.S. management of worldwide well being safety efforts can be important to optimizing the worth of our home public well being and biomedical analysis investments. Domestically transmitted outbreaks of malaria, dengue, and Zika viruses in South Florida have demonstrated that infectious ailments don’t cease at nationwide borders, and neither ought to our investments. Continued management within the international responses to HIV, tuberculosis and to rising infectious ailments will optimize the worth of our home well being dollars.

I see the significance of strong responses to the infectious illness and well being care challenges that People face daily among the many sufferers I serve in Miami. My hope is that the candidates will, too.

Ann T. MacIntyre, D.O., is an infectious ailments specialist in Miami and a board member of the Infectious Illnesses Society of America.