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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Congress’s Inaction On Emergency Funding For Zika Response

Washington Post: The wrong way to fight disease
Editorial Board

“…It was irresponsible of Congress to leave town for the summer with President Obama’s $1.9 billion request [for emergency Zika funding] up in the air. It also underscores a larger problem: The system for financing public health emergencies is flawed. … This is not only a problem in the United States, but afflicts other nations and the World Health Organization, as the Ebola postmortems showed. … As Congress dithered this spring over whether to provide emergency funding for Zika, the administration responded by reprogramming about $589 million in existing funds to deal with the threat. This wasn’t a freebie. It robbed resources set aside to help other nations improve their disease surveillance and response systems … In effect, by inaction, Congress forced the administration to rob the future to pay for today. … Funding disputes in Washington will always be intense. But it is time to take infectious disease outbreaks seriously and establish a more stable financing mechanism for fighting them, such as a proposal by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) to create a $5 billion public health emergency fund that would be ready for a rapid and flexible response when viruses and bacteria suddenly run rampant” (7/24).

Huffington Post: A Day Late, A Dollar Short: What The U.S. (And The World) Still Aren’t Getting About Zika
Steve Davis, CEO at PATH

“…[L]ong-term funding and coordination of research and development are essential. Because the most urgently needed vaccines often don’t have a commercially viable market, funding will need to come from governments and foundations that have a history of supporting global health initiatives. Such funding should be used to accelerate development of vaccines for the diseases already identified by WHO as most likely to cause severe outbreaks in the future. … As an urgent matter of national and international security, governments and WHO must join with pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and nonprofits to establish a well-funded and well-coordinated public-private partnership program to prepare for the future disease outbreaks that are certain to strike. It won’t be cheap to fund or easy to manage. But failure to do so now will certainly carry a significantly higher cost in the future. In our complex and often insecure world, this step toward improving global health security is an essential investment” (7/22).

Forbes: While Zika Spreads in U.S. Congress Goes On Vacation
Judy Stone, infectious disease specialist and Forbes contributor

“…Once again putting partisan politics above public health, Congress left for a seven-week vacation without funding President Obama’s and the CDC’s request for emergency Zika funding — made [in] February. While … new cases occurred after Congress skipped town, they reflect Congress’s short sightedness in not proactively funding research and control efforts. … With the funding for public health having been gutted and Congress leaving without providing emergency Zika funding, we may not know how widespread Zika is for some time, especially since most cases are asymptomatic. … The lack of funding not only limits critical surveillance, but spraying for mosquitoes to reduce transmission. … We shouldn’t allow politics to trump public health. Elections have consequences. Remember that this fall” (7/25).

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