Congress fails to fund Zika response

Date: Jul 15 2016

Contact: Daniel Greenberg, 202-777-3913

APHA: Failing to fund Zika response before recess ‘doesn’t make sense, irresponsible’

Washington, D.C., July 15, 2016 — The American Public Health Association expressed great disappointment at Congress’ failing to reach an agreement yesterday to fund Zika outbreak response before going on seven-week recess.

Congress now will not be able to fund Zika prevention and research until September at the earliest. Since 2015 more than 3,600 people in the U.S. and U.S. territories have contracted the virus, a cause of microcephaly, other major fetal birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

“The tragedy runs deeper than the number of babies who will be harmed and the spread of disease that Congress has ignored,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “It’s also the fact that the public health dangers of not passing legislation were well recognized, and still nothing was done.

“It doesn’t make sense, it’s irresponsible and it will place tremendous strain on public health departments and communities. Even when Congress comes back, the situation will be worse and require more resources to appropriately combat.”

In February, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in funding for Zika-related activities. Since then APHA has joined public health advocates in support of a comprehensive response that helps communities prepare for and prevent local transmission of Zika, enhances laboratory and surveillance capacity, contains Zika in affected areas and provides services for affected pregnant women and children.

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