My poor, poor blog! All lonely and unused. Academia has been good to me once again but it has kept me very busy. I am surprised that this blog hadn’t turned against me! I briefly forgot my password but it serves me right. I have been away way too long but much has happened, many lessons have been learned and from these lessons new ideas and a new way of thinking about what I do not only as an educator but as a Public Health Practitioner.
The way I want to use this blog has changed but that is what blogging is about, using the tool for the current environment. Lecturing my students on microbiology has been a blast and I am slowly working my way back into a rhythym and yet I see the void that exists in the world on how we view our delicate balance (or inbalance, depends on who you ask) with the microbial world. What do I want to do now? Well not too much from what I am doing now, just doing it more often and concentrating on critically analyzing how changes in the microbial world are and could affect us. It seems that we spend a lot of time talking about all of the bad that occurs, new emerging diseases, reemerging diseases and how the microbes are winning.
We have had some good things happen:
— Rinderpest is on the path to eradication
— There is a new vaccine for the African meningitis belt, 300 million people are being targeted for the vaccine
— A Rapid TB test device has been created and recommended for use by the WHO
— There is a new push in polio vaccination in Africa.
Those were off the top of my head, but there are other things that are happening good for us as we do the constant tango with the microbial world. Of course there have been some other events of a political nature such as the Pope and his adjusted stance on condom use, but I would not want to use this blog as a political box but a change in stance (albeit very minor) can make a huge difference in how we address HIV/AIDS from an educational standpoint.
But really, if we all make some changes wouldn’t that make a huge difference in how we take the fight to the microbes? Will the new Food Safety Bill passed in the Senate give us better tools to ensure the safety of our food? We love food so much in this country that we have to save ourselves from ourselves. But it is not all about our love of food, it is also about the producers who love our money yet they give us substandard food. Do they do it out of greed? Depends on who you ask. I say it’s probably about 50/50, many are working to do the right thing but lack resources (money, manpower etc) to ensure that they are prepared. When the inspector walks in, they do the best they can but know they are wrong. The other half banks on the fact that inspections are few and far between and work to see how long they can get away with producing food products in less than desirable conditions. Should there be heftier consequences for these producers? There should be, I am all for it!
All of this and everything I discussed in this blog entry make for great conversation and make excellent teaching points not only to those who are studying to work as health care professionals but for the general public as well. How we address the problem of infectious disease can take on many facets from the scientific, economic and political. But one thing is clear, each element has a place in the discussion and we cannot be afraid to neglect one area for fear of being one-tracked in our thinking on the subject. As I have said many times, coming together and putting our heads together is what is needed in order to best solve our collective problems.