Bundrant: No single answer to changing world

Dr. Bradly Bundrant, MD, MPH.
Health and Wellness Coalition for Runnels County

The world is changing more rapidly than ever, and the changes that are impacting us most profoundly are due to events and circumstances in distant places. To make matters worse, government agencies charged with protecting us from and alerting us as to potential threats have done a poor job.

Dr. Bradly Bundrant is the chairman of the Health & Wellness Coalition of Runnels County. The coalition is gearing up to start hosting health screenings, public education classes and podcasts.

As late as February 2020 we were told it was unlikely that the novel Coronavirus in China would have major health impact in our country. As late as October 2021 we were told that inflation was transitory. This February the US intelligence services apparently did not believe that Russia was actually going to make a major incursion into Ukraine until the invasion had been unfolding for several hours, and then their assessment was that the capital of Ukraine would likely fall within 72 hours. All of these predictions and so many more were not only completely wrong, they were unsupported by the evidence at the time.

It turns out that the data gathered by our government is actually quite reliable, it is their analysis that has been flawed. What this means is that we need to use the data and other assets provided by our government, but we need to think for ourselves, develop our own expertise and act in ways that promote public safety as well as the health and well-being of ourselves and our neighbors.

These are things to which many local organizations devote their resources and attention. More needs to be done. Those of you who are regular readers know I have more than once said that we need to organize and act locally for our own health and welfare, and the natural questions are these:

What are the most important problems?

What are the solutions to these problems?

How can we accomplish what needs to be done?

The answers to these questions are neither simple nor easy, and obviously the answers to the second and third questions depend on the one(s) above. While there is no single best answer, we can start by reviewing the most recent full data set from the federal government (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db427.pdf,), showing the top ten causes of death for 2020:

Heart disease*

Cancer*

COVID

Unintentional injuries**

Stroke*

Chronic lower respiratory diseases*

Alzheimer’s disease

Diabetes

Influenza and pneumonia

Kidney disease

We need to be mindful that every death is a great loss, but the economic and societal loss is unquestionably greater when a person dies in the midst of their more productive years. There is also a greater sense of loss when it appears the death might have been preventable, or it involves a young person – or both.

These considerations should cause us to pay particular attention to unintentional injuries as well as broaden our list of problems to consider mental health, depression and suicide as well as drug and alcohol abuse and the ensuing deaths due to murder, overdose and chronic disease.

Suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in 2020, and for persons less than 65 it is in the top 10. An article appeared in the March 18, 2022 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that alcohol abuse was actually responsible for more deaths in the US in 2020 than COVID, in people less than 65 years of age. Finally, chronic liver disease– due to Hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver – is currently the fourth leading cause of death in persons 45 to 64 years of age.

The problems outlined above are all worthy of further consideration. Perhaps there are others that would be uncovered in a local assessment of our County’s needs. Next week we will consider what can be done about these problems, and whether there are special local needs that deserve our attention.

*Tobacco abuse contributes significantly

**Includes overdose deaths

Dr. Bradly Bundrant, MD, MPH., is the chairman of the Health & Wellness Coalition for Runnels County.

Any opinions or views expressed in the above article are solely those of Dr. Bundrant and do not necessarily represent Cherry Road Media.