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Another Perverse Medical Outcome of Government Policy


Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP.MACE

A few weeks ago Thomas Schweich wrote an article in the New York Times magazine section entitled “Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?” This was in the midst of President Bush drawing down troops in Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan to suppress the Taliban and Al Qaeda once more. Senator Obama has said for over a year the real threat is in Afghanistan and not Iraq. This is the fight against our terrorist enemy. Senator McCain has said we need to win both wars.


John Moore/Getty Images

"POPPY FIELDS FOREVER A crop in Helmand Province in 2006. An unlikely coalition of corrupt Afghan officials, timorous Europeans, blinkered Pentagon officers and the Taliban has made poppy cultivation stubbornly resistant to eradication. "

How does Afghanistan’s production of 90% of the world’s heroin relate to Repairing America’s Healthcare System? Both candidates have pledged to reduce the costs of the healthcare system but have ignored this $180 billion dollar a year medical cost to the healthcare system.

“Thomas Schweich was a senior counternarcotics official in 2006 and had recently arrived in Afghanistan the country that supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin. Hamid Karzia thanked the American people for all they had done for Afghanistan." Mr. Schweich took to heart Karzai’s strong statements against the Afghan drug trade. He now declares that “it was my first mistake” and his NYTimes article brilliantly describes his mistake.

It is an eye opening article because the Karzai government supports the drug trade and the United State Defense department and our European allies have turned their back on eradicating the poppy fields and the heroin trade for “political reasons”. The article is an absolute must read even if it is only 75% accurate.

What is our present administration thinking?

“The Afghan government is involved in protecting the opium trade — by shielding it from American-designed policies. While it is true that Karzai’s Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters. He is not going to let the narco trade disappear”

Our government is putting our soldiers in harms way to support a corrupt narcotic producing government in the name of the “War on Terror”. The present administration does not have a cohesive anti-drug policy nor is it thinking of the problem’s impact on the cost of healthcare.

”The cost to society of illicit drug abuse alone is $181 billion annually.”

This does not include any of the societal costs. When combined with alcohol and tobacco costs, they exceed $500 billion including healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity. The administration is not connecting the dots or using common sense. There is no sign that the next administration will do differently. The cost of drug addiction is a tremendous burden to the healthcare system.


“It is not just dollars and cents, but there is a human cost in tragedies across this Nation. There are nearly 1.6 million Americans, in jail because of illegal narcotics crime activities. There have been 15,200-plus deaths, up almost 8 percent over the previous year, drug-induced deaths not to mention lost opportunities for so many Americans.”

The Bush administration’s actions remind me of the “Mole and Grub” story. Moles eat grubs. Our government is killing moles one at a time. In the process we are getting our soldiers killed along with our citizens who become drug addicts. It is a very difficult, costly and unconquerable process. If we killed the grubs the moles would starve to death.

I believe some of the people in our government have the courage to kill the grubs. However, the officials that count (the administration) refuses to see the consequences of their present inaction. It does not look like it is going to get any better during the next administration unless the citizens demand action.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.


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