During the second half of this month, Tom Daschle and the Obama transition team will welcome public input on its health care policy. Much of the attention at the forthcoming health care community discussions will probably be on how more people (especially children) can receive affordable health insurance, but this might be an ideal time to become more aggressive about finding ways to heighten awareness of celiac disease.
As you might recall, Barack Obama supports preventative medicine and judicious government spending. I would imagine that he is also looking to create "success stories" during the initial phase of his presidency.
I think that a celiac disease awareness policy would achieve those goals because
* More than 2,000,000 Americans of all ages (about one percent of the population) are estimated to have celiac disease that is undiagnosed or misdiagnosed even though they may be experiencing symptoms.I hope that this type of message makes its way to people who can see the reasoning in it and take action to make it happen. If you agree, please think of how you can help to get the message across, whether it's through a community health care discussion, contact with sympathetic political figures such as Kemp Hannon, Nita Lowey, and Hillary Clinton, or contact with an advocacy group such as the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).
* Diagnosing and treating celiac disease in the undiagnosed children can help them develop normally, avoiding illnesses such as osteoporosis.
* Diagnosing and treating celiac disease in the undiagnosed general population can also prove beneficial, fending off osteoporosis as well as chronic fatigue, thyroid disease, and some forms of cancer, along with many other health issues.
* Decreasing the "time to diagnosis" from its current length of about 10 years can eliminate unnecessary tests and medical visits.
* Celiac disease can be initially screened through simple and relatively inexpensive blood tests.
* Celiac disease is treatable by diet, not medication or operations or procedures.
* The Obama administration does not need to initiate an awareness program from scratch. It can shape a policy that is informed by the examples of other countries, especially those in Europe.
* By raising awareness at a point in time when the vast majority of people with celiac disease are unidentified, the Obama administration can measurably accelerate the rate of diagnosis—in other words, it can point to results.