Valuing children

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

We United States citizens are among more fortunate humans to live in a nation with unprecedented levels of material prosperity and life work opportunity. This may even be more true for citizens of Alaska. Besides vistas of geographic and natural beauty, we have untapped natural and economic resources. It is true we have become used to economic benefits without much taxation; thus our elected leaders are now wrestling with how to bring our budget deficit down. They are hampered because 2002 is an election year. The "tax" word still strikes fear in many.

There is a more important issue to which we all can attend, citizen and politician alike: The future of Alaskan children. Our present administration under Tony Knowles' and Fran Ulmer's leadership has consistently put children and their basic needs high on their agendas. We have the Children's Cabinet, the Alaska Children's Trust Fund, the Smart Start initiative, prevention programs to reduce Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, statewide child injury programs through SafeKids and - most important for fairness to the most basic of child needs - Denali KidCare.

As only one of many veteran Alaskan pediatricians who utilize and appreciate Denali KidCare, I want to thank Gov. Knowles and Lt. Gov. Ulmer for such political leadership. Child immunization rates have improved as infant mortality and child injury rates have fallen. Struggling Alaskan parents who are working double jobs at minimum wage can now be assured their children will get quality basic health care. Early and regular well child visits benefit all of us. Hospitalization and more severe and chronic diseases costs are kept down. Public health and preventive medicine professionals who analyze health care costs show for every dollar spent in such early and regular child health care, from two to three dollars are saved.

I am happy to pay more taxes, state and federal, for such savings. And I encourage my fellow Alaskans to vote for such leaders, making actions for the future of all Alaskan children their top priority.

George W. Brown, M.D.


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