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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Funding For Zika Response

San Francisco Chronicle: Republican lawmakers are blocking an answer to the Zika virus
Editorial Board

“…The White House proposed $1.9 billion to develop a vaccine, educate the public, and study the virus that’s especially dangerous for pregnant women. But Republicans on Capitol Hill want to load up the plan with pet issues and oddball crusades. After trimming the spending to $1.1 billion, the GOP measure bars private health clinics such as Planned Parenthood from Zika funds, weakens restrictions on pesticide spraying, and lops money from the Affordable Care Act. … Democrats blocked the measure as irresponsible and too flawed to support. But the gridlock leaves the country largely unprepared as mosquito season warms up … Congress has a final shot later this month to craft a deal before the start of campaign season. The prospect of more pointed fingers and rhetoric in the heat of national elections won’t help find a solution. Now is the time for a serious answer to the Zika virus” (6/30).

The Hill: Democrats block crucial Zika funding
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)

“…Addressing [the Zika] threat head-on is a top priority of Republicans in Congress. We have to do the best we can to prevent the spread of this virus and protect the next generation. But we’re also looking beyond this latest crisis to strengthen our underlying biodefense infrastructure so we can respond rapidly and effectively to both man-made and natural emerging biological threats in the future. … We are fortunate to have programs such as Project BioShield, a program specifically designed to bolster the research, development, and purchase of effective medical countermeasures that protect Americans from biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear threats … The best way to save lives in future outbreaks is to have drugs or vaccines ready before the crisis hits. … Given all of these repeated crises and increased threats, it is bizarre that President Obama has repeatedly attempted to slash funding for Project BioShield in many of his budget proposals over the years … While Democrats in Congress continue to play politics with the health of our women and children, Republicans are offering real, targeted solutions to fighting the Zika virus…” (7/1).

The Hill: Congress: don’t wait to act on Zika until it’s too late
Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health in Houston, Texas, and board member of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

“…[W]hile Zika funding is aimed at significantly boosting dollars that would go to vaccine development, academic research, and even for global response, we must not forget that much of the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ efforts in the United States will fall on the shoulders of state and ultimately local public health departments. … Most importantly in the fight against Zika, public health is tasked with engaging our local communities to eliminate sources of mosquito breeding and to raise awareness on the use of personal protective measures to prevent the all-important mosquito bite. Congress must not wait for the first cases of babies with microcephaly in the United States due to exposure to locally-acquired Zika. By then, it will be too late. Adequate funding must be available immediately at the levels required to respond to Zika and in turn to assure the health and the well-being of people and the communities within which they live. Our communities expect it. Our families expect it. Our children expect it. And most importantly, it is the right thing to do” (7/1).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.