Letter to the Editor: We would be wise to invest in public health

Published 3:30 pm Saturday, March 20, 2021

To the editor:

This is in response to the “Our Opinion” editorial in the March 17 edition of the The Natchez Democrat: “Mississippi Takes Important Vaccine Lead.”

Yes, we should be proud that Mississippi is one of the national leaders in maximizing the number of citizens taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

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We should shout kudos to the state’s leadership, in general and Dr. Dobbs, our accomplished State Heath Officer, in particular. With his advice and wise public health counsel, Mississippi was able to launch a model vaccine program in terms of availability, accessibility and rapid response to mitigate the pandemic.

Most importantly, his sound weekly public health messages resonated well with Mississippians, thus contributing to the MS COVID-19 program’s success.

Dr. Dobbs is a physician (MD) and has an MPH (Masters of Public Health), both disciplines that made him aware of the COVID-19 threat and ways to confront its dangers and consequences by applying the basic principles of public health based on science, experience and old fashioned common sense.

Unfortunately, public health, as a discipline, has been neglected and starved of resources that has made our national system weak; it needs to be given tools to build robust disease prevention and health promotion programs before the next pandemic comes and, believe Dr Fauci, it will.

We must urge national, state and local leaders to recognize the importance of public health agencies and, not only to provide them with appropriate resources, but to restore the erosion of trust in the social foundation of public health.

We know that we have the best health care system in the world to take care of the sick; but we’re not very good at supporting programs that address health promotion and disease prevention at the community level. What’s the old saying? “Pay me now or pay me later?” Wise investments in public health will save millions in governmental expenditures and, most importantly, save countless lives.

Mike Gemmell,


former executive director of the Association of Schools

of Public Health