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Policy & Politics

Opinion: The US Is Unprepared For Zika, Congress Must Act

So far, there have been no reported cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in any of the 50 states. But scientists predict that will change this summer, with outbreaks expected mainly in Florida and the Gulf Coast, but with the potential to spread as far north as southern Minnesota and Maine. On the Health Affairs Blog, Georgetown University health law scholars Alexandra Phelan and Lawrence O. Gostin argue that Congress should approve the $1.86 billion emergency funding request President Obama submitted in February to combat Zika virus at home and abroad. Without this funding, the federal money that has been allocated to Zika is being diverted from budgets for Ebola and state emergency preparedness, which the writers argue is unfair and insufficient. Here's an excerpt:

It is one thing to fail to prepare for an emerging infectious disease if the risks are uncertain. But it is quite another to fail to act when the facts are clear: we know that Zika is coming to the US, that it harms newborns, and will disproportionately affect poor women and their children. Failure to prepare for a storm that is spreading rapidly in our region, heading for our shores, and which could affect the next generation is unconscionable. It is also a major political mistake. Imagine if nine months following a Zika virus outbreak this summer babies are born with severe birth defects, and poor women testify in Congress holding their babies. It would, and should, result in a public moral outrage.

Read the full post: 

On Zika Preparedness And Response, The US Gets A Failing Grade