Ahead of the New Year, CLP Editor Chris Wolski shares his wish for 2024–increased testing access for all.

By Chris Wolski

I haven’t made it a secret that one of my pressing interests is testing access—and more broadly access to health care in general. While I won’t presume to make any predictions for the coming year—I’ll leave that to the experts—I will share my hope for 2024: That we see greater testing access.

We live in a country built on the myth of the “rugged individual,” an attractive idea to be sure, but a myth all the same. The fact: We tend to see success when we cooperate and look out for one another. This isn’t a slam against individualism per se, if anything precision medicine has proven the rugged individualist is more right than wrong—at least at the cellular level.

But cooperation and looking out for each other comes with a price tag, and as much as we say we value health, the number of people without access to adequate health care, including testing access—even if they have insurance—is astounding. It all comes down to dollars and cents. I get that to a point. But saving a dollar now just to have to spend 10 down the road seems shortsighted at best and disastrous at worst.

Earlier this year I wrote about how BD provided testing equipment to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in San Jose, Calif., to test for the most common STIs affecting its underserved populations. This isn’t the only example of corporate altruism nor is it the only way testing providers are helping to tackle this silent epidemic, but it’s a perfect example of how critical testing access is for society as a whole and how a dollar spent now will save so much more in the future, particularly in the wake of reports of a decade-high spike in congenital syphilis.

TB, AMR, HIV, STIs are all diseases that can be treated or managed. What do all of these diseases have in common? They are identified using readily available diagnostic tests. Often, they go undiagnosed. Why? Lack of testing access.

I know the answer isn’t easy, and, in fact, there are multiple answers to testing access: more public-private partnerships; reforming insurance; providing better reimbursement for labs; and allowing labs and testing providers clearer avenues to develop tests. Still, my hope remains the same: That testing access improves at least a little more in 2024.

I’m looking forward to a hopeful and peaceful 2024. We sure need both right now.

Chris Wolski is chief editor of CLP.