President Bush's 2009 budget proposal continues a dangerous trend of underfunding medical and scientific research. It underestimates the vital hope such research offers families facing debilitating and fatal diseases, such as Alzheimer's. It is absolutely critical to maintain a level of funding that would ensure that scientists have the tools and resources to find treatments to delay, halt or reverse the progression of Alzheimer's and other life threatening diseases.
As many as 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease today. In 2000, there were 161,000 in Georgia with Alzheimer's disease, and by 2010 there will be an estimated 199,647 people with the disease. Without effective treatments, Georgia's health care and long-term care systems will not be able to provide sufficient support for the emerging baby boomer population.
The president's proposal is far from what is necessary to bring an end to a disease accruing costs that will put Medicare, Medicaid and individual families into financial ruin. Investing in research to end Alzheimer's disease is one of the most prudent decisions that the government can make -- it will save lives and billions of dollars for Medicare and Medicaid.
There is real potential for a better future, one in which Alzheimer's disease is no longer a death sentence but a manageable, treatable disease that affects far fewer people -- people who will continue to lead productive and meaningful lives.
To achieve this future tomorrow, Alzheimer's disease must be addressed and funded as a national priority today.
Kathy Tuckey, Augusta
(The writer is program and services director for the Alzheimer's Association, East Central Georgia Region.)