From a public health perspective, there is much to celebrate among the many competing health care reform proposals that have been offered on Capitol Hill. Yet one underlying and potentially worrisome subtext to almost all existing reform options is a continued lack of recognition of the growing link between public health and national security. Legislative decisions being made today on health care reform could have a deleterious impact on US efforts to address the growing threat of bioterrorism.
Without a doubt, biotechnological innovation has yielded incomparable benefits to humanity. In many ways, the world is a better place to live than it has ever been: life expectancy has doubled in the past 100 years; the technology-driven revolution has created astonishing new capabilities to diagnose and treat illnesses once thought incurable; and new technologies are being applied to bolster food production for a growing and increasingly hungry world. As a result of globalization, these technologies have spread to more entities, in more countries, in more regions of the world than ever before. Yet a formidable challenge in the age of globalization is governments’ inability to effectively monitor and regulate these emerging technologies-and the growing commitment and wherewithal of terrorist organizations to exploit these advances for hostile purposes.