WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 30, 2016 – Healthcare Ready celebrates the passage of $1.1 billion towards the Zika virus response efforts included in the continuing resolution (CR) voted on by Congress this week and signed into law by President Obama yesterday. The CR includes emergency funding urgently needed for the Zika response, which has already resulted in 3,625 cases in the U.S. and over 22,000 reported in U.S. territories. The critically needed funds are pivotal for public health planning and response efforts at the federal, state, and local level during a time of increased pressures. As of September 22nd, 808 pregnant women in the U.S. had evidence of Zika virus infections, so it is imperative that we now use these resources to get to work controlling transmission by enhancing detection and prevention efforts, expanding research and development of vaccines and diagnostics, and caring for those with the virus.
“We are pleased that the funding package included funding to replenish the public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) program, which had to divert funding at the state and local level to support the response. This funding will better allow local health departments to do the important, life-saving work that needs to be done to combat this threat.” said Executive Director Emily Lord.
We are further encouraged by funding included for response efforts in both Flint, MI and Louisiana. The inclusion of $170 million in funding for the Flint, MI water contamination response efforts allows lawmakers to ensure funding for Flint is included in the final version of the Water Resources Development Act passed earlier this year. $500 million allocated for victims of the Louisiana flood will aid in important recovery efforts.
Healthcare Ready was proud to stand with partners including the March of Dimes Coalition, Trust for America’s Health, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as advocates for the emergency funding required to respond to the outbreak of the Zika virus in the Americas. We also take this opportunity to echo that the provision of funding does not mean the response is over, nor should last minute emergency funding become the normal protocol for the U.S.’s response to public health emergencies. We urge Congress not to let this cycle be repeated in future public health crises.