Foundation Testifies Before Congressional Appropriation Committee for More Federal Funding for Hepatitis B Programs

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- Hepatitis B Foundation president Dr. Timothy Block testified about the public health challenge of chronic hepatitis B before the Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on March 13 in Washington, D.C., at the request of David Obey, chairman of the Committee on

Appropriations. Block spoke about the urgent need to strengthen and increase funding for hepatitis B programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"The recent crisis in a Nevada clinic, where 40,000 people were placed at risk for infection with hepatitis B and C, is a problem that the CDC thinks might just be the tip of the iceberg," said Block. "This incident highlights critical deficiencies in our public health and research programs, and if we don't act with urgency, more and more people will suffer."

The foundation believes that a well-equipped CDC is the best hope to manage the public health problem of hepatitis B. Two million chronically infected Americans are depending upon the NIH to search for new interventions to treat hepatitis B and liver cancer, a fatal outcome of chronic hepatitis B and the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. today. The foundation says that the CDC and NIH have performed admirably with the limited resources they are provided; however, much more is needed to achieve effective, lasting solutions.

Block concluded his testimony by urging the appropriations subcommittee to restore in FY 2009 the overall CDC budget to $7.4 billion with a $50 million increase for the Division of Viral Hepatitis, and to provide a 6.7 percent increase for the NIH bringing the total to $31.2 billion, including a $40 million annual increase for hepatitis B research.

Source: Hepatitis B Foundation

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