As we enter the third day of the US govt shut down that I am watching from overseas, my thoughts and prayers are with those who are adversely affected by the shut down. I have been reflecting on the shut down while listening for several hours to the CNN coverage of the shut down. Firstly, I do not blame either the congress or the senate or the president for the shut down. We should all be proud of the principled but hardened positions of the opposing sides. To me it demonstrates that the US democracy is a vibrant one with laws and procedures to protect dissent and disagreement. It is also a reinforcement that once elected the US president is not God or Caesar (Dictator). The NIH is the flag ship of the US Govt and having myself spent five years at this prestigious Institute doing biomedical research in the trenches of NIH, it can withstand a shut down because when I was at the NIH, there was a brief shut down, essential backbone of NIH continued to remain open on skeletal staff and it is the decision of the Government to decide who is essential and who is not. With regard to the cancer treatment of those on clinical trials, there is no need to hold that in abeyance. It is important to realize that there are private hospitals in Washington DC and around the country are the centers of cancer care and where treatment is provided and not affected by the shut down. The news media is making the issue of a few cancer patients not being provided care or cutting edge experimental medicine, a mountain out of a molehill.. Shown in the image 1 is the Vince Lombardi cancer center at the Georgetown University in Washington where Govt shut down may not affect the treatment of hundreds of patients. In fact the patients on clinical trials could be moved to Georgetown University's Cancer Center temporarily.. Georgetown University shown in image 2, where the late President Ronald Reagen was treated aft6er a bullet made it close to his heart, is not the only University in the Washington area with a cancer care center and with an ability to treat cancer patients or undertake clinical trials, surrounding states have also got cancer hospitals that can make arrangements to transfer the trial medications to other cancer care centers. Finally the shut down is not the end of the world but I hope it ends soon. But if in moving forward, prudent decisions of how there will responsible spending to ensure debt and deficit reduction in the future are not made, we are all going to witness a much bigger disaster and a severe threat to national security.
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