Nov 28, 2016

Opinion: Gulf Nations Showing Way Toward Better Health and Technology

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By Dr. Christopher Zachary

While the U.S. has been mired in election banter for the past two years, mostly bad and mostly a colossal waste of money, a current and brief assessment of what’s happening in some of the Gulf States indicates that we should be anticipating a continued and strong growth in technology and medical services over the foreseeable future. Their massive investment in infrastructure starting in the 1960s and beyond is clear for all to see ... and it’s paying off in spades particularly when the Western World is contracting in its fundamental influence in these areas.

The recent trends in funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is of importance to us all. Research is critical for expanding knowledge and improving the health of the U.S. population, particularly those at most risk. Funding for biological and medical research has fallen; from 2003 to 2015, the NIH lost 22% of its capacity to fund research due to budget cuts and inflationary losses. We all need to understand that this means fewer grants, fewer new discoveries, and a dramatic erosion in the number of our talented scientists. It takes a generation to develop a cadre of these successful scientists; it takes but the stroke of a pen to discard them.

Not that I’m suggesting we should adopt an autocratic form of government, but our stable and enviable democracy can be interminably slow in acknowledging the need for dramatic investment in vital resources for the advancement of science and technology.

On the positive side, we should note that for FY 2016, Congress raised the NIH budget by 5.9%, an important first step in preventing a catastrophic loss of U.S. leadership in the world of scientific discovery. For 2017, a bipartisan group of 300 members of Congress called for a $3 billion increase in funding (to $35B), which would fully restore the NIH to its 2003 funding level.

We, the American voting public, need to weigh in on this; if we don’t ... then we only have ourselves to blame.

For more see the NIH Research Funding Trends.

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