NATIONAL. Congress goes on vacation without a Zika funding bill, Public health organizations respond (Outbreak News Today)

Posted by Robert Herriman on July 15, 2016

As Thursday came to a close, the American public saw that no Zika funding bill, from either side of the aisle, would come to fruition as the Congress would head out for a 7-week vacation.

This drew many responses of disappointment from various medical and public health organizations:

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) representing the 2,800 local health departments working on the front lines to protect communities from emergencies like Zika is disappointed by our federal leaders’ inability to put health and safety above politics.

 “By not addressing the threat now, we risk squandering our nation’s opportunity to prevent the Zika virus from gaining a foothold in the United States this summer. Local health departments are rightfully concerned because they are on the front lines of responding to this crisis. Resources are still desperately needed to launch prevention efforts and to respond to any local transmission of Zika. On behalf of families across the nation, we implore federal leaders to find a solution to enable local health departments to do what they are trained to do and protect the public’s health.” said LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, NACCHO’s executive director.

In the same vein, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) expressed disappointment with the U.S. Congress Thursday. The Coalition consists of the 28 largest, most urban public health departments in the country, representing approximately 1 in 6 Americans.

“The spread of Zika virus has created a public health emergency that needs to be addressed now,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “For months Congress has failed to act, which has real consequences not only for those who are already infected but for those who are at risk – expectant mothers and their children. Without federal funding, more Americans will be needlessly infected, crucial vaccine development may be stalled, and strapped public health departments will continue to scramble to keep up, doing more with less. Protecting the American people from infectious disease is a bedrock responsibility of the federal government, and right now, Congress is failing to do its job.”

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