It appears that we are destined to live in perilous times: the September 1 1, 2001, terrorist attacks; the imminent threat of war; the beginning of preparations for a possible smallpox attack upon our population. These and other threats have important implications for pediatricians as we think about our patients and about ourselves and our own families.
At Pediatric Annals, we have determined that we should all be brought up to speed regarding bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, and even nuclear terrorism, with particular focus on those issues that are important to children and their caregivers. Drs. Gregory Blaschke and Julia Lynch have coordinated a remarkable series of articles that cover a broad range of issues related to these themes. In fact, they have organized sufficient material for three issues of Pediatric Annals. In this first of three, the articles deal with the pediatric health professional's role in the public health response, the pediatric health professional's involvement with military families, and the management of pediatric mass casualty. Dr. Blaschke is a general pediatrician with strong interests in community and behavioral/developmental pediatrics. He holds academic titles at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and at University of California - San Diego, serving as pediatric residency director at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Dr. Lynch has served on the executive committee of the Uniformed Services section of the AAP since 1999. In October 2001 she was named to the AAP Task Force on Terrorism, a 10-member national task force established to serve in an advisory role on child-specific needs to the AAP and various other governmental bodies.
An interesting perspective on the events of September 1 1, 2001, is provided in this issue by Dr. Abeer Hassoun, who was serving as a pediatric resident at Harlem Hospital not far from the World Trade Center at the time of the terrorist attacks. She writes as a Muslim, a mother, and a pediatrician who worked in Manhattan at the time.
The effects of world threats upon our activities continue in several ways. For example, I have been recruited to lead our hospital's response to the request from federal and state public health authorities to create a vaccinated Smallpox Response Team of volunteers to provide care for patients in the event (God forbid!) of a terrorist attack with the dreaded variola, the virus of smallpox. Preparing for such a possible event forces all of us to confront the potential implications of such a disaster upon our society and to upgrade our capacity to do so urgently, if it becomes necessary.
We can hope and pray that as pediatricians we do not need much of the information contained in these issues, but until we are sure that we do not, you should find helpful data here.
Chosen to illustrate this month's column are two stamps and a souvenir sheet issued in 2001 -2002. The three heroes raising the US flag at the site of the World Trade Center should be familiar to all. The Mongolian stamp portrays the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers, with the slogan "Lef s unite against the terror." The souvenir sheet "Freedom for All" was released by Azerbaijan (Former Soviet Union) and shows the New York City skyline graphically while each of the three stamps depicts the burning, smoking towers.