In my first epidemiology class today, Vic gave an example about how the lack of knowledgeable public health officials within a given society can be detrimental to those within the population. Taken from the book “Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health” the anecdote explored the bubonic plague in India in the early 1990’s and how difficult it was for medical and health officials to identify the disease. One of the ‘interesting’ facts about the topic was that the Minister of Health was not a physician. This is not to say that only physicians should hold the position. It is to say that those we choose to represent us within government should have, at the very least, some knowledge of the field they represent.
And this brings me to a an article today on Dominica News Online. The Minister of Health for Dominica, according to the article, “blames some social problems on marijuana.” There are several things wrong with this thesis. But for now, I will say that from the article, as well as from responses to the article, it is clear that the Minister knows very little about the links between marijuana and its effects on youth. Additionally, he goes on to say that during his youth, many parents had “some alcohol” and that “We did not have that in out time”, referring to the many problems that young people face today. The link between alcohol consumption and its associated problems are well noted. So, for a Minister of Health to dismiss alcohol as a cause for social problems while implicating marijuana shows a great irresponsibility on his part as well as a lack of good judgement about what ails society.