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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Zika Response

Washington Post: Zika is spreading in Florida, but Congress still hasn’t approved cash to fight it
Editorial Board

“…Local governments and public health agencies are scrambling to control [Zika’s] spread, provide diagnostics, educate the public, and search for a vaccine. But instead of acting, Republican majorities in Congress have taken the emergency as another occasion to grandstand and squabble. After President Obama asked in February for nearly $1.9 billion in additional federal funding to fight the virus … a partisan fight broke out on Capitol Hill that stalled legislation. … Without the new money, the administration has been reprogramming existing funds intended for other vital public health purposes. The delays on Capitol Hill are evidence of deep dysfunction. … The money will be particularly important for vaccine development, which requires clinical trials that can be costly and take time. … Congress ought to be embarrassed for starving the Zika budget in a purely political tiff” (8/23).

Washington Post: We know how to fight Zika in Puerto Rico — but we aren’t giving women the tools to do it
Kristyn Brandi, fellow at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and family planning fellow at Boston Medical Center

“…[W]e absolutely cannot make any strides in the fight against Zika without funding for family planning services. … Providing reproductive health services to those in Zika-affected areas is vital to protecting women’s and children’s health. … We know that contraception and abortion access will prevent more children from being born with serious abnormalities — so why aren’t we giving women and their doctors the tools they need? First, information needs to be more available so that women can make informed decision[s] about their reproductive health care. … Contraception should become more readily accessible to all women, regardless of income. Also, abortion should not have the roadblocks it currently has … Our representatives should accept that the need for abortion care will increase as Zika spreads further into the mainland United States. We have a responsibility to all of our citizens to make it easier to access the full spectrum of care and accurate information so that women … have everything they need in the fight against this virus” (8/22).

The Hill: Zika funding held back by politics
Thomas Gellhaus, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Didi Saint Louis, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Morehouse School of Medicine

“…If we’re serious about addressing the Zika threat, we must fully fund comprehensive reproductive health care — so that all at-risk women who would like to avoid or delay their pregnancy may do so. … We urge Congress to return to Washington to adequately fund a response to Zika. Without this crucial support for women’s health, attempts to combat Zika will simply fall short. Any attempt to restrict the ability of women to avoid or delay pregnancy will make stopping the spread of Zika that much harder. It’s time for lawmakers to start acting in the best interest of public health. Our country depends on it” (8/22).

Wall Street Journal: The Zika Undercount and the Virus’s Growing Threat to Public Health
Ron Klain, external adviser to the Skoll Global Threats Fund

“…[M]ost women who have Zika do not have symptoms and so may not think about being tested; others become pregnant after being exposed and likewise may not focus on the need for testing. This means a high percentage of pregnant women exposed to Zika have not been tested, making the current confirmed case counts … almost certainly undercounts. … All of this speaks to the importance of mosquito control efforts and Zika vaccine research. … This growing threat to the public health, and its economic dimensions, are why bipartisan support is growing in Congress for a public health emergency fund to enable responses to future epidemics without having to wait for congressional action. But a fund to help address future public health crises will not address the Zika challenge we face now. … How much worse will this nightmare get before there is serious action to combat it?” (8/28).

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