For Immediate Release: July 14, 2016
TFAH Statement on Congress Failing to Provide Funding for the Zika Response
Washington, D.C., July 14, 2016 –Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is extremely disappointed that Congress was unable to reach agreement on a Zika response funding package. The following is a statement from Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO of TFAH.
“By the time Congress returns in a couple of months, the damage to our nation from Zika will likely be irreversible. This failure to act severely hampers the full response that is greatly needed.
The crisis has already reached our shores—this week a baby was born in Texas with Zika-related microcephaly. In addition, public health officials are tracking 320 pregnant women in the continental United States with Zika infections—and there could be hundreds more who have not shown symptoms or have not been identified. In Puerto Rico alone, 2,800 people have already been confirmed to be infected, with expectations that 20 percent of the population could eventually be infected.
Without additional funding, health departments and communities are on their own. Either resources will be shifted from other pressing needs or communities will have insufficient means to perform mosquito testing, infection prevention, disease tracking and other actions.
In addition, vital research on new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments may stop. While this will undoubtedly have short-term consequences, this failure has the potential to cause drastic future problems as researchers find government an unreliable partner in supporting innovation.
Since the White House sent its request to Congress in February, TFAH has worked with a broad coalition of stakeholders in advocating for Congressional action. This coalition includes March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and many others.
Unfortunately—while Congress is on recess—the need for emergency funding will not diminish. In fact, it will increase. Congress must put politics aside and act.”
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org