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  • As hearings begin, IDSA calls for robust funding to counter infectious disease threats at home and abroad

    06/13/2017

    This week Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will testify before Congress on the administration’s budget request for 2018. The Infectious Diseases Society of America urges Congress to use this opportunity to advance efforts to raise the crippling budget caps imposed by sequestration, reject the devastating budget cuts proposed by the administration, and set a course for robust investment in public health and biomedical research.

    On June 14, Secretary Tillerson will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Appropriations after defending the Administration’s budget request before the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. The President’s proposed budget slashes global health funding at the State Department by billions, with deep cuts to global HIV funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. global HIV response provides life-saving HIV treatment and other services to more than 12 million people, and has averted 11 million AIDS-related deaths and 16 million HIV infections. A cut of this magnitude would reverse gains made in the fight against HIV and would damage efforts to achieve epidemic control. A $1.5 billion, or 50 percent, cut to USAID’s other global health programs would hinder global abilities to address the world’s biggest infectious disease killers, including tuberculosis and malaria, and dangerously limit America’s ability to respond to pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious disease threats.

    On June 15, Secretary Price will testify before the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The administration’s proposed budget includes a 23percent cut to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which would severely constrain the development of urgently needed new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to address infectious diseases threats that currently include Zika, influenza, HIV/AIDS, and antimicrobial resistance. The proposed elimination of the NIH’s Fogarty International Center would come at a cost to our global health leadership and our domestic health security, hobbling our ability to respond to pandemics and capacity to drive breakthroughs on diseases including HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.

    Proposed funding cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would weaken state and local health departments and leave our communities vulnerable to infectious diseases threats. The administration’s proposal to reduce funding for CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative and shift this program to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (which the administration is seeking to eliminate) threatens to dismantle our national infrastructure to combat antibiotic resistance. Proposed decreases to CDC’s immunization programs would diminish our ability to prevent and respond to outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease, that include the current measles outbreak in Minnesota. Proposed reductions to the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention would roll back HIV prevention progress and are particularly shortsighted in the face of growing threats that include multidrug resistant tuberculosis and climbing syphilis rates. Finally, proposed cuts to CDC’s global health programs would weaken domestic and global health security, compromising efforts to stop infectious disease threats where they emerge, and before they reach our shores.

    IDSA is grateful for longstanding bipartisan support in Congress for federal investments in public health and biomedical research that protect our nation from infectious diseases threats, and that has most recently been demonstrated by the 2017 budget agreement. We strongly urge Congress to maintain this momentum and reject harmful funding cuts that would reverse progress and put Americans at risk.

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