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Global health, carbon pricing and high-quality public education top readers' list of concerns.

Invest now in fight for global health

COVID cost us valuable gains in the fight against preventable diseases. Now is the time to get back on track.

HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria took a back seat in global health news for the past two years and efforts to eradicate all three diseases experienced serious setbacks as a result of the ongoing pandemic. One million fewer people were treated for tuberculosis in 2020 than in 2019 and, for the first time in a decade, annual tuberculosis deaths rose. The number of people tested for HIV dropped by 22% and malaria deaths rose by 12% in 2020.

Fighting one pandemic is challenging enough without resurgences of three others, and we are facing an additional threat now as New York declared a state of emergency over polio. That's why we need strong leadership from U.S. lawmakers to fully replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has led the fight against preventable diseases for 20 years. It is a global health partnership that unites world leaders, communities, civil society, health workers and the private sector.

As hosts of the seventh Replenishment Conference, all eyes were on the U.S. President Biden, who set the bar with a proposed $2 billion per year pledge in his budget proposal.

Sadly, we know that a pandemic anywhere in the world can affect everyone, everywhere. Now Congress — including Sens. Merkley and Wyden — must see this through to the finish line so the Global Fund can continue its lifesaving work to end HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria so we can keep all Oregonians safe and healthy. Robust funding is also an investment in U.S. economic growth: according to the Global Fund, every dollar invested generates $19 in economic returns.

Carolyn Barber, Southwest Portland

Let's finally build Mt. Hood Freeway

Regarding Powell Blvd.: We lived on 102nd and Powell when I was a kid. The state of Oregon took our home and property to put in a new freeway that would have connected to Highway 26. The freeway never happened. This move disrupted several families and lives. Move the bikes to a safer location, with bike paths not lanes. How about take the money that was supposed to fund the Mt Hood Freeway and finally build it.

Don't allow large trucks on Powell. I have seen many, many times where the bicyclist think they own the road and dare the cars and trucks to pass them as they hold up traffic. There are too many homeless, living too close to the edge of the street for anyone to be safe. Thank you,

Tina Schilz, Fairview

Time to implement carbon-pricing plan

As we conclude a summer of record-breaking heat waves and historic floods, the need to act on climate change is clearer than ever.

That's why I applaud Sens. Merkley and Wyden, and Reps. Schrader, Blumenauer, DeFazio and Bonamici for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The largest climate investment in United States history, the bill incentivizes clean energy and prioritizes climate and energy security in the United States.

However, while these measures are an important first step, further action will be needed. In particular, we have yet to use one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal: carbon pricing.

A price on carbon has earned the support of leading businesses, environmental experts and countless opinion leaders across the political spectrum. The Inflation Reduction Act already incorporates a fee on methane at $900 per metric ton, underscoring the viability of emissions pricing. Why not charge for carbon dioxide emissions as well?

After decades of delay, the United States is finally moving on climate action but we cannot stop here. Carbon pricing is the most important next step. For the sake of young Oregonians like me and all of the generations to come, let's deliver on this vital solution.

Stella Anastasakis, Southwest Portland

Science is critical to survival

The pandemic has proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that science is critical to the survival of modern society. When we were in depths of the pandemic, scientists and researchers at our nation's pharmaceutical companies and universities stepped up to find a solution.

Thanks to companies like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna we not only had access to life saving vaccines, but these companies continue to find new solutions to the many variants that continue to emerge.

Given this continuing threat, I am surprised that Congress placed undue burdens on these very same companies through prescription price setting policies. Allowing the federal government to set the price of prescription medications could prove detrimental to patients by limiting funding for research and causing delays in care.

While I understand that their intention was to help lower out of pocket costs, there are other policy routes they could have taken that don't harm the chances of finding new medical breakthroughs. Insurance reforms, for example is a great place to start. So many patients and their families pay for expensive insurance coverage, with no guarantee that the care they need will be covered in full.

With oversight and regulation into anti-patient step-therapy policies, or capping out of pocket costs, so many in Oregon and across the country can feel instant relief. I hope our lawmakers focus on the insurance industry in the coming months.

Steve Jardin, Southeast Portland

Educational standards needed in our schools

As a new school year begins, Oregon students will no longer be required to demonstrate skills in reading, writing and math. Until 2026, an Oregon high school diploma will no longer guarantee academic achievement, but only participation in a system with undefined parameters. The legislators, school districts and the governor supporting Senate Bill 744 saw that this "will benefit Oregon's Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color."

The state has adopted the position held by many 19th century abolitionists. When I read "The Life and Times of Fredrick Douglass," one passage always stayed with me. After speaking to an abolitionist audience, Douglass considered the evening a great success, because he concluded his talk believing these people were convinced, he was equally human with them. He mentioned this as a significant event, because many strong supporters of black freedom questioned whether these people were fully human. If educators would treat minorities as individuals, they would design programs allowing opportunities for achievement commensurate with that they have presumed for whites.

I remember Dr. Martin Luther King saying, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. …little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

That statement of brotherhood still makes sense to me.

Nolan Nelson, Redmond

Lincoln County needs support for AA services

I've been sober in AA for 49 years. I've counseled at several treatment centers throughout those years. I found they used AA for treatment.

I noticed there's no money for Lincoln County. Why is that? We have a horrible drug problem, especially in Newport. (Narcotics Anonymous) doesn't have much success.

We're getting a rehab in a couple of years. In the meantime we need help.

Toni Mueller, Waldport

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