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May 17, 2016 Liz Voyles (202) 297 9641
Big Cities Health Coalition Applauds U.S. Senate for Passing Zika Funding Package
Coalition Urges the U.S. House to Act Quickly, and with Sufficient Funding
Washington, D.C. – The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) today applauded the U.S. Senate for passing an emergency funding package designed to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus. Although the $1.1 billion package falls short of the $1.9 billion requested by the White House, this funding will enable the public health workforce to plan and execute an ongoing response to the evolving outbreak. The Coalition urged the U.S. House of Representative to follow suit quickly with a commensurate level of funding and without paying for the effort by using money previously appropriated for the global Ebola response.
The Coalition consists of local health departments from 28 of the largest, most urban cities in the United States, representing 1 in 6 Americans. All of these health departments are engaged in educating the public and health care providers about Zika and screening travelers from countries where the outbreak is more advanced, and many are scaling up their mosquito control programs.
"These funds will allow America’s public health workforce to mount a strong response to the Zika virus outbreak, but Congress must refrain from subsequently syphoning money from previously allocated preparedness funds meant to address the ongoing Ebola threat,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of The Big Cities Health Coalition. "American families have waited long enough for Congress to act, and the emergency funding needs to reach cities as quickly as possible to address the emerging outbreak.”
The funding allocated today by the U.S. Senate includes support for surveillance activities, vaccine research, and diagnostic development and procurement. Local and state health departments will be able to use this funding to increase their readiness and response capacity, particularly in areas with ongoing Zika transmission; enhance laboratory, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to reduce the opportunities for Zika transmission; and stand up their surge capacity through rapid response teams.
However, the public’s health is still at risk. The U.S. House is poised to vote on a bill that provides only $622 million and raids the global Ebola response fund. Further, the funding would run out by the end of fiscal year 2016 (September 30) and require additional funding mechanisms to continue the response.
The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans. The Big Cities Health Coalition is an independent project of the National Association of City and County Health Officials. For more information, please visit www.bigcitieshealth.org.