AAPS Statement To House Oversight Ebola Hearing

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STATEMENT of the ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS

Submitted by Jane Orient, M.D.

October 24th, 2014

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: My name is Jane Orient, M.D. I am a practicing internist from Tucson, Arizona, and serve as the Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (“AAPS”).

AAPS is a nationwide organization of physicians devoted to defending the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship. AAPS revenue is derived almost exclusively from membership dues. We receive no government funding, foundation grants, or revenue from suppliers of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical devices, computer hardware or software, compliance materials, or other commercial products.

During the recent surge of illegal aliens across our Southern border citizens and local officials were not receiving adequate information from federal agencies, and Border Patrol officers and medical personnel were reportedly threatened with firing or even arrest if they spoke out. Whistleblowers must be protected. But, more importantly government must be accountable for their decisions.

Now Ebola, already declared to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on August, 8th by the World Health Organization (WHO), has spread to at least one patient on American soil. What has the Administration done about the outbreak? Dismiss, defend, deter, and deflect. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that a widespread outbreak in the U.S. is highly unlikely because of our sophisticated medical and public health infrastructure. And, multiple members of the Administration as well as other politicians have made public statements that there is 0% chance of contracting Ebola.

However, the system is only as strong as its weakest link, and violation of basic precautions necessitated the monitoring of dozens of contacts of just one patient in Dallas who entered by air from Liberia.

Now, two of his caretakers have already been diagnosed with Ebola and they were wearing full protective garments and understood that they were in an infectious situation, and we are starting see even more additional cases. Basic public health principles dictate that epidemics need to be contained at the source. Even a “small outbreak” of Ebola would be extremely costly in lives and treasure. Hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola have been widely discussed as a biological weapon. Deliberate introduction of such a weapon, whether in a warhead or a human vector, would be an act of war and a crime against humanity.

Protection of our population is a matter of national security. In addition to the Ebola threat, thousands of American children have been sickened, a few have died, and some have been paralyzed, probably permanently, because of enterovirus D-68. The CDC has been silent about the source of this epidemic. It is speculated that it could be from sending tens of thousands of children from an endemic region to American schools.

Since the primary role of the federal government is to protect the citizenry, AAPS calls for congressional hearings and consideration of legislation to:

  • Require persons entering the U.S. from West Africa or other areas reporting Ebola to undergo a 25-day period of quarantine;
  • Require that all illegal entrants undergo an adequate period of quarantine with screening to assure freedom from tuberculosis, infestation with scabies or lice or other ectoparasites, or other communicable diseases;
  • Protect whistleblowers who report potential public health threats;
  • Assure that timely and accurate information is reported to the public and medical facilities about the existence of threats and effective precautions.

I urge the Committee to consider the public health questions and pursue more answers and immediate action by the Administration. I also urge the Committee to pursue more answers and explanations about the Administration’s continued efforts to distort the truth for their own self-interest which is also in opposition to what is best for the public’s health.

I look forward to working with the Committee as this urgent issue develops.

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