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September 29, 2016                                                                                                                                Liz Voyles,, 202-297-9641


 Big Cities Health Coalition Thanks Congress for Acting on Zika Virus

Funding Is Essential for City Health Departments’ Response

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) thanked the U.S. Congress today for taking much needed action to address the Zika virus outbreak.

The Coalition consists of the 28 largest, most urban public health departments in the country, representing approximately 1 in 6 Americans. These local health departments are on the front lines of fighting the outbreak by educating the public and health care providers about Zika, screening travelers from countries where the outbreak is more advanced, and scaling up mosquito control programs.

“This funding is essential to support cities as they continue to address one of the most complicated disease outbreaks in recent memory,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “The spread of the Zika virus has tested America’s local health departments who have responded throughout the year, despite a lack of federal funding. This delay is another important reminder of the need for sustained, sufficient resources for both public health emergencies and routine activities that affect the health of communities across the nation.”

Local and state health departments will use this emergency funding to increase their readiness and response capacity, particularly in areas with ongoing Zika transmission. They will enhance laboratory, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to reduce the opportunities for Zika transmission; and sustain their surge capacity with rapid response teams.

A lack of resources for the Zika response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resulted in deep cuts to Public Health Emergency Preparedness funds for state and local health departments this spring. This new funding will backfill those cuts.

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