One point I’ve made on this crappy blog is that, despite popular culture depictions to the contrary, scientific infrastructure isn’t well supported. No gleaming labs that look like something out of an architectural design magazine. Most labs (#NotAll) have to scrape together funds–science contrarian propaganda notwithstanding. And now ProMED, an infectious disease alert system, is in serious financial trouble (boldface mine):
As a subscriber of ProMED, you are hopefully aware that ProMED has provided information on emerging and re-emerging diseases to the world, free of charge, for almost 30 years. There is an ongoing misperception that because ProMED has been around for so long and has such a successful track record, that it is well funded. Unfortunately, this is not the case. To put it frankly, ProMED is in dire financial straits.
ProMED needs unrestricted operational funding, and we have found that those opportunities are few and far between as various regional and global surveillance hub efforts come online. While the COVID-19 pandemic made the entire world aware of the importance of pandemic preparedness and epidemic surveillance, ProMED has been unable to capitalize on the unprecedented amounts of money that were infused into this space. Many of our traditional funders have moved to project-based funding under the premise that other government and international entities will cover sustainment costs, or the entity will become self-sustaining via other funding mechanisms.
When we launched a $1 million fundraising campaign in October 2022, we raised $20 000. Although these donations were greatly appreciated, it further highlights the disconnect between sustainable funding and the varied perceptions of who should pay that bill. Further complicating the situation, several government and business entities use and disseminate ProMED data in violation of our terms of service and have thus far been unwilling or unable to help ensure our financial viability.
We have heard repeatedly that no one else does what ProMED does and that our data are critical for our many users, but that has not translated to the sustainable funding we so desperately need.
This has necessitated very difficult decisions to be made to continue providing ProMED’s vital services. We have started, and will continue over the coming months, to roll out significant changes at ProMED to secure its future.
ProMED’s Twitter and RSS feeds were turned off on 2 June 2023. This change is permanent to stop unauthorized data scraping.
As of today, 14 July 2023, the “Search Posts” feature on the ProMED website has changed to allow users to search for posts from only the previous month.
This autumn we will launch a new home page for the ProMED website where all visitors will create a login to access any information on the website.
The new home page will also include a paid subscription model where users will be able to subscribe to different tiers. Each tier will deliver access to different types and amounts of information and will determine how far back in the ProMED archives users can search for past posts.
We will enforce ProMED’s terms of service to ensure large-volume data users are contributing to ProMED’s financial viability while trying to keep it as low cost as possible for our individual users.
If you would like to request ProMED data and pricing in light of these changes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know this is likely difficult news and is not what anyone would prefer to happen. However, allowing ProMED to cease operations would be a far worse outcome for the many entities that depend on the critical alerts and historical data we provide. Looking ahead, we envision ProMED not only as the preeminent platform for event-based surveillance but also the nexus for modeling, forecasting, and predictive analytics that will not only help to identify a potential pandemic event but also predict it before it even starts.
If you or your organization is interested in providing long-term funding or donating to ProMED, or if you have specific questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Meta burned around $40 million per day to create legless avatars.