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For Immediate Release: September 29, 2016

Trust for America’s Health’s Statement on Zika Emergency Funding: Encouraged and Grateful

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2016 – The following is a statement from Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) on Congress approving emergency funding to respond to Zika.

“TFAH is encouraged and grateful Congress approved emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus outbreak.

This critical funding, first requested by the White House in February, will help bolster public health detection and prevention efforts, invest in research and development of vaccines and diagnostics, provide care for mothers and children and support the global health response. 

While we are satisfied this was the best compromise Congress could achieve at this time, the funding has been direly needed for months and is still less than the President’s request. In addition, these measures fail to repay funds that were redirected from our nation’s ongoing Ebola response initiatives—hurting efforts to prevent a resurgence of that devastating and highly infectious disease.

We are by no means at the finish line in the race to prevent the devastating consequences of Zika. Every day we learn something new about the impacts of this virus, especially on fetal brain development. The list of what we do not know about the transmission and aftereffects of the virus remains long and the delay in funding has hindered critical research efforts.

At the same time, we know the Zika outbreak is the latest, not the last threat. Zika emerged following years of funding cuts to vector-borne disease surveillance and other programs that support core public health preparedness functions. 

For years, the nation has relied on a cycle of providing emergency funds during a time of crisis followed by cuts to annual funding lines – which result in lost public health capacity and expertise, making it near impossible to be prepared for the full range of public health threats.

Sadly, with each new crisis, we seemingly rediscover that we have failed to learn our lessons from past outbreaks. It’s up to policymakers to support children, parents and families by providing public health with dedicated funding and a responsible long-term plan.

We call on Congress to maintain a strong and steady defense against a range of threats—and back this with adequate resources.”

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

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Contact

Media Contacts: Albert Lang (202) 864-5941 or alang@tfah.org or Laura Segal (202) 223-2592 or lsegal@tfah.org