Fort Dodge (Iowa) Messenger

Editorial: Looking out for our future

DEC 22, 2019

Almost nobody gets through life without at least a few health care woes. Making sure that knowledge about how best to address medical issues continues to advance is the mission of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH has achieved an impressive research record in many areas. In recent years, however, it has experienced difficulty recruiting and supporting the physicians and scientists who are critical to making further gains in combating major diseases and maladies that affect children.

That’s why U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst has partnered with six other senators to seek congressional approval of the Pediatricians Accelerate Child Therapies Act — known more simply as the PACT Act. This legislation is designed to increase support for pediatric researchers. It also aims to strengthen investigative coordination and facilitate greater collaboration. The Iowa Republican has been joined in sponsoring this bill by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania; Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi; and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi.

“A strong pipeline of pediatric researchers is essential to ensuring kids in Iowa, and across the country, have access to innovative cures and treatments for the complex medical conditions that they and their families are facing,” Ernst said in announcing this major initiative. “We must work to ensure that children are being adequately represented in federal research. That’s why I’ve put forward this bipartisan bill that will bolster pediatric-focused research and in turn help to improve the lives and health of our children and families.”

The legislation has the strong backing of the Iowa Pediatric Collaborative, which is comprised of Blank Children’s Hospital, ChildServe, MercyOne Children’s Hospital, and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Dr. Teri Wahlig, a spokesperson for the IPC, made clear why this bill warrants enthusiastic backing.

“The PACT Act recognizes the difficulties in attracting and retaining physician-scientists to the field of pediatric research — especially as Iowa’s health care workforce ages,” Wahlig said. “The future of pediatric medicine depends on a continuous pipeline of scientists interested in advancing child health.”

The Messenger agrees and applauds Ernst for working in harmony with senators of both parties to make sure that research regarding childhood diseases and health issues gains the priority attention it deserves. In working hard to advance pediatric research these lawmakers are helping guarantee that as many children as possible will be able to overcome health challenges. In so doing, through this legislation they seek to create a brighter future for our nation. When children are enabled to have healthy lives and achieve their full potential as adults, we all benefit. The PACT Act will further that goal and should be approved by Congress.