Hawaii Medicine

The university of Hawaii's college of tropical medicine is expected to begin research locally on bird flu viruses this spring. It is essential to develop techniques locally for detection and, possibly, for development of a vaccine.

Right now, any suspected samples of this virus or many other viruses have to be sent to the mainland for testing, which takes days, and time is precious when you are talking about a possible pandemic. Some are worried about the samples spreading here, but safeguards are in place, and this work is vital.

We have all seen medical testing of loved ones or pets whereby it took days or weeks to get results back due to the lack of facilities locally. Hawaii has been mentioned for obvious reasons as a possible medical hub bridging the best of the west and the east. Hopefully, growth will continue in that area, but right now, it makes sense that we develop tools locally and take advantage of opportunities to protect ourselves and strengthen our ability to respond and defend ourselves right here.

At one time, it was thought that perhaps the Mayo Clinic might open up a branch on Oahu. That hasn't happened yet, unfortunately, but we must encourage medical pro-active efforts, like local bird flu testing, for all the right reasons- human care, economic impact, emergency response, and the positive publicity of hawaii as an innovative, action-oriented state. Think about it...