Lawmakers fall short in Zika response

Date: Jun 28 2016

Contact: David Fouse, 202-777-2501.

APHA admonishes Congress for failing to adequately fund Zika response

Washington, D.C., June 28, 2016 — The American Public Health Association issued a strong rebuke to Congress today for failing to pass legislation that properly addresses the Zika outbreak — without cutting funding for other important public health priorities. 

The Senate this morning failed to take up the Zika funding conference report, a deeply flawed measure that falls far short of providing appropriate emergency funding for a worldwide public health emergency. The agreement, which APHA opposed and that passed the House last week, does not provide comprehensive support for the numerous layers of Zika response, including contraception for women who wish to avoid pregnancy. It also takes money away from other vital public health priorities, like ongoing Ebola prevention, protection and response activities. 

Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal birth defects.

"It’s beyond time for Congress to come together to address this,” said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. "We’ve seen this coming from a mile away. There are nearly 1,000 cases in the U.S. already and it could get much more severe if we don’t get serious about slowing the outbreak immediately. We’re hopeful that Congress will put measures in place to stop the spread of Zika without compromising other public health safeguards.

"America has already been significantly impacted and we should anticipate similar impacts in other U.S. states and territories. From what we’ve seen in Puerto Rico and other nations, we know Zika could cause hundreds of U.S. infants to be born with preventable birth defects — if we don’t intervene. The situation demands that Congress acts quickly and decisively, but the most recent proposal is both late and inadequate. 

"We urge the House and Senate to quickly regroup and develop a bipartisan approach that will appropriately combat this dangerous outbreak."

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