Of­fi­cials: Bud­get harms our Zika pre­ven­tion ef­forts

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Pub­lic health of­fi­cials warned Wed­nes­day that Pres­i­dent Trump’s bud­get would dev­as­tate their ef­forts to fight dis­eases such as Zika, re­viv­ing the omi­nous warn­ings they used last year to de­mand nearly $2 bil­lion to bat­tle the virus that turned out milder than they ini­tially had warned.

As tem­per­a­tures rise and the mos­qui­toes that carry Zika pro­lif­er­ate, city and county of­fi­cials said Mr. Trump’s $1.2 bil­lion pro­posed cut to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion will re­duce lab ca­pac­ity and slash pub­lic health emer­gency fund­ing.

The CDC is about to dole out the last of its money from the $394 mil­lion it was al­lo­cated in last year’s spend­ing bill to fight Zika.

“There’s no more money com­ing be­hind that un­less Congress acts,” said Laura Ha­nen, in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of County and City Health Of­fi­cials.

Lo­cal health chiefs also faulted the House GOP plan to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare, say­ing cuts to tax­payer-sub­si­dized cov­er­age and waivers that would al­low in­sur­ers to pro­vide plans with­out a slate of “essen­tial” ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing ma­ter­nity care, could hin­der the Zika re­sponse.

More than 5,000 trav­el­ers have re­ported cases ac­quired in other coun­ties and brought back with them since Zika struck the Western Hemi­sphere in 2015, ac­cord­ing to CDC fig­ures.

Yet only 225 peo­ple re­ported cases by mos­quito bite on the con­ti­nen­tal U.S., with lo­cal in­fec­tions lim­ited to a few neigh­bor­hoods in Florida and Texas. That’s far less than the po­ten­tial dan­ger zone ex­tend­ing across the South and up the coasts in maps pre­sented by fed­eral of­fi­cials last year.

Armed with those maps, the Obama White House de­manded nearly $2 bil­lion in fed­eral dol­lars that weren’t off­set else­where in the bud­get.

Congress ended up ap­prov­ing $1.1 bil­lion, af­ter a fiery de­bate that in­volved a govern­ment shut­down show­down.

The Govern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice re­cently said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “painted with a broad brush” and may have “spread fear” about the dan­ger ar­eas.

Pub­lic health of­fi­cials reignited the Zika-fund­ing war Wed­nes­day, say­ing while they ex­pect out­breaks to be lim­ited to small pock­ets of the coun­try once again, the po­ten­tial con­se­quences are enor­mous.

Zika virus is known to cause grave birth de­fects in in­fants born to in­fected moth­ers. A re­cent CDC re­port said women with sus­pected cases of Zika had a 5 per­cent rate of virus-spawned birth de­fects, while those with lab-con­firmed cases showed a 10 per­cent rate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.