Physician leader sounds public health alarm

Published 7:26 am Tuesday, March 7, 2017

TUPELO (AP) – Chronic budget cuts are threatening Mississippi’s public health infrastructure, warns Mississippi State Medical Association president Dr. Lee Voulters.

“We’re one disaster away from disaster. The results could be catastrophic if we don’t have a department of health that can respond,” said Voulters.

Much of the work of the health department is invisible because people take it for granted that they can eat in a restaurant without concern for food safety or drink the water that comes from the faucet, Voulters said.

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Voulters and his fellow physicians are concerned that the budget cuts to the current fiscal year budget and cuts proposed by the fiscal year 2018 budget will impact the agencies ability to respond to emerging disease threats like the Zika virus. Diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis are largely contained, but could reemerge as broader threats if the health department doesn’t have the resources to closely monitor existing cases, Voulters said.