Amid all the headline-grabbing antics of the U.S. presidential race, there are serious health and science policies that will need to be addressed in the coming years.
To that end, Scientific American recently asked policy experts at universities, non-profits, foundations and elsewhere about top scientific issues--what government should be doing to promote health, safety and productivity--that the candidates should be talking about, but aren’t.
Three of their answers included:
- “Superbugs:" Antibiotic-resistant infections are expected to kill more people than cancer by 2050. Yet drug companies are hesitant to invest heavily in treatments typically used for a single occurrence of an illness. Experts say Congress should fund some of the research and enact legislation to ease the financial burden of developing new drugs. Beyond that, they urge less feeding of antibiotics to cows and pigs and increased efforts to reduce infections in the first place, by promoting hand washing, for instance.
- Continued examination of the right to die: For now, assisted suicide is left up to the states, but the polarizing debate raises religious and ethical questions about who should have authority to decide. For instance, earlier this year, a group of doctors filed a lawsuit to overturn a California law that allows physicians to prescribe medications to terminally-ill patients who want to end their lives.
- Obesity: While experts say there is no single way to reduce obesity, some state and city efforts to promote exercise and healthy eating habits have been shown to work. Anthem Blue Cross recently announced an effort with a California medical group and a healthcare mobile app developer to see whether one-on-one coaching, family education and an app to track it all can help curb childhood obesity. Still, many feel doctors need better education on obesity.
The article touched on other topics, as well, including the potential use of biotechnology to make guns safer, and an increased focus on technology education standards by the government. The latter, according to the article, could help produce more homegrown scientists and engineers.