The Final Four lived up to its potential with two very competitive match-ups.
In the first, Federal Funding Fiascos, one of the best looking teams in the tournament, went wire-to-wire with the too-hot-to-handle Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. As UConn did away with overall No. 1 seed Florida, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria also advanced to the Public Health Finals.
E-cigarettes looked to be an early tournament favorite, but eventually met their demise as #3 Gun Violence snuffed them out in Saturday night’s contest. The only No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four was plagued by injuries, as liquid nicotine poisonings became rampant in the team hotel. After a violent weekend seeing four dead in NYC, Gun Violence pressed their way into the finals as you, the voters, have consistently recognized this to be one of the most pressing public health issues we face. Kentucky squeaked by Wisconsin, continuing their string of upsets to reach the NCAA finals, just as #3 Gun Violence is the highest seed to make our Public Health Finals.
This brilliant championship match-up really showcases the impact of public policy on public health. With insufficient federal funding to respond to drug resistance, and private companies pulling out of early stage R&D for diseases like drug resistant tuberculosis due to lack of incentives, antibiotic resistant bacteria have managed to stage an extraordinary comeback. Meanwhile, the United States is seeing waves of legislation to increase access to guns in settings such as bars and airports. And NRA lobbyists are threatening the nomination of the next U.S. Surgeon General because he has characterized gun regulation as a public health issue.
Voting for which teams will take the March Madness Public Health title can be done through Monday, April 7th:
With a national title on the line, how well do you know the finalists?
While U.S. rates of tuberculosis (TB) have declined consistently since 1993, the global picture is not as promising: today, TB is the second leading cause of death from a single infectious disease in the world. Perhaps more alarming, of the eight million new TB infections every year, about 500,000 are resistant to multiple drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) reported that more than two million people a year become infected with some form of antibiotic resistant bacteria which continues to threaten our ability to treat infectious diseases as well as the ability to use antibiotics in combination treatment for patients suffering from other conditions. As the No. 2 seed, antibiotic resistant bacteria’s relentless defense has carried them through the tournament to a much deserved spot in the finals.
The fallout from access to guns resulting in gun violence impacts young people most severely. Among 15 to 24-year olds, the rate of firearm homicide in the U.S. is more than 42 times that of other high-income countries. Mass shootings are an attention-getting move that reveals just how scary this threat can be. This team has survived some close match-ups to reach the finals, but ultimately weak legislation and questionable calls by the referees will see them facing off against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria tonight.
Edited by Dana March