As with any budget, there of course needs to be cutbacks in order to benefit another area of the budget. Even within households we have budgets. For example, do we scrap our subscription to satellite radio in order to payoff our credit card debt a little sooner? It is a highly important subject to be sensitive about and make sure it is followed fairly strictly to ensure success.
The proposed federal budget certainly ensures that the United States will have the ability to fire more guns, build better military vehicles, etc by providing a whopping $54 billion. However, in order for this to happen, the administration proposes cutting federal funding to the National Institute of Health (NIH) by $5.8 billion dollars in 2018, which is about a 20% decrease in funding that is provided in our current year of 2017.
Why would it be a bad thing that 20% of the federal budget to NIH is taken away? NIH is responsible for medical breakthroughs like cholesterol-lowering drugs and considering that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States (CDC, 2014), I would consider that an important part of Americans’ daily lives. This alludes to about one in three Americans will die of heart attack or stroke. Other advances, though not at all a complete list, are that the research NIH provides helps to decipher the molecular targets to stop cancer from spreading and helping physicians to diagnose early onset of neurological problems. It is because of the current funding NIH receives from the federal government that physicians and researchers are able to team-up to give the leading institutions in the United States a step above other areas of the world in medical advances, giving us longer lives and better quality of life.
Previously, we were only able to treat a disease once diagnosed. That is not true anymore. These advances and monetary support have advanced our communities to being able to treat conditions and diseases before it is too late. Geneticists are able to diagnose inherited diseases before they become deadly, cancer patients have greater chances of survival due to earlier detection procedures, and we have even eradicated some diseases thanks to the development of our current vaccines.
Because of this budget cut, if approved, all of these advances will severely halt or stop altogether. Studies that look at long term issues will fade away. Labs and experts of the fields that take years to learn highly-specialized skills will be forgotten when there is no space or funds to train a new generation to replace our current workers. The United States will lose their spot within the medical community as world leaders and, even scarier, we may not be able to handle disease epidemic.
Many will say, “We are doing this to fight terrorism. The fight against terrorism is more important than research.” Well, if terrorism is the only thing that will catch your attention then let’s look at that. Dr. Vahid Majidi, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, in 2011 stated that the probability of a biological attack on the U.S. is at 100%.
Not to mention, in terms of Americans’ health and safety, isn’t cancer and heart disease killing more of us every single day than terrorism? Each family in this country has felt the pain and torture of a loved one who suffers from these awful conditions, or has even watched someone pass away from them. But we can’t shoot a missile at cancer. We can’t bomb heart disease. The best weapon we have against these issues, and a predicted biological attack, is our scientific research.
If our administration keeps seeping money from our scientific community, then we can surely see the impacts of it in the future. Providing medical, biological, and technical security for our citizens does not come from aiming guns at enemies outside of our walls. We may suffer a viral disease epidemic and not be able to do anything about it. Especially if the $314 million proposed cut to the Centers for Disease and Control is approved.
Budgets are important and sacrifices must be made. But ruining our scientific community is not the way to do it.