Statement from IDSA President David A. Relman, MD, FIDSA, on Congressional Hearings on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
IDSA is pleased that both the House and Senate are holding hearings this week on the recent fungal meningitis outbreak associated with contaminated steroid treatments. This infectious disease emergency has underscored the need for the U.S. to maintain a robust, well-funded public health system that is capable of detecting and responding to public health emergencies, such as outbreaks as well as natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local officials have been working around the clock to respond to the meningitis outbreak, protect the American public, and minimize the number of fatalities. CDC has helped to identify patients at risk of infection; established treatment regimens for those exposed; and communicated with the public, media, clinicians, and other federal, state, and local government agencies. Unfortunately, pending CDC budget cuts threaten the very core of our nation’s capacity to prepare for and respond to such emergencies.
CDC supplies the bulk of preparedness funding to state and local health departments, which are on the front lines of an emergency response and have seen their workforce severely eroded in recent years due to budget cuts. A stable, well-trained workforce and infrastructure must be in place to respond to public health emergencies—capacity and expertise cannot be built overnight. Additional funding cutbacks to public health, either through sequestration or the traditional budget process, would devastate our nation’s ability to respond effectively to future public health emergencies.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is an organization of physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious diseases research, education, prevention, and patient care. The Society, which has nearly 10,000 members, was founded in 1963 and is based in Arlington, VA. For more information, see www.idsociety.org.
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