BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

August 17, 2016

Twenty six current and past ASTMH presidents call for Congress to act on Zika funding

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer
GHTC
A CDC researcher prepares reagents that would be used in a CDC-developed Zika diagnostic test. Photo: CDC/Sue Partridge, CDC- Ft. Collins
A CDC researcher prepares reagents that would be used in a CDC-developed Zika diagnostic test. Photo: CDC/Sue Partridge, CDC- Ft. Collins

On Wednesday, 26 current and past presidents of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) sent a letter to the leadership of the US Senate and House of Representatives urging policymakers to pass an emergency spending bill to combat the Zika virus as soon as possible, calling failure to do so “imprudent and reckless.”

Six months have now passed since the White House first requested US$1.9 billion in emergency funding for the Zika virus response, yet Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed to reach a compromise position, and last month Congress adjourned for summer recess without passing a funding bill. As a result, US agencies involved in the response, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, have been forced to repurpose funds from the Ebola response and other accounts to continue financing efforts to curtail the spread of the Zika virus. But President Obama and agency leaders have voiced mounting concerns that federal funds to fight Zika are quickly running out and lack of funding could delay vaccine research and development.

In the letter to congressional leaders, ASTMH’s current and past-presidents note that, “The science is clear, the call to action is clear and yet, political infighting has carried the day while the outbreak continues….Patchwork and inadequate funding will not do the job—plain and simple.”

The letter continues: “Without proper funding, researchers cannot sustain surveillance, planning, mosquito control, or research and development efforts to protect our most vulnerable populations, including women and children.” It ends by urging Congress to “get this job done now.” This collective leadership letter is the first of its kind for the Society, which is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and to improving global health.

Click here to read the full letter.

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