The American Public Health Association (APHA) today announced its strong support for a new surge in funding to protect against Zika virus. The virus has health officials increasingly concerned about its recent rapid spread in the Americas and beyond and its suspected link to serious birth defects and other potential health problems.
President Barack Obama released details today for the more than $1.8 billion in emergency funds he is seeking to prepare for and respond to Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, both in the U.S. and overseas. The funds will boost ongoing preparedness work and strengthen efforts to stop transmission of the virus, including expanding mosquito-control programs, increasing disease surveillance and laboratory capacity, and improving health education and health services for pregnant women and families. The new money will also jump start vaccine research and development.
“Zika presents a new threat for communities across our nation,” says Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “New threats require new investments. The president’s request is a prudent step to help ensure we are as prepared as possible to detect and defend against this emerging health risk.”
The president’s request follows last week’s World Health Organization declaration that Zika is a public health emergency of international concern, requiring a coordinated global response. While we’ve only seen one case of reported Zika virus transmission in the U.S., it’s only a matter of time. We have a lot to learn and prepare for, and we need to do so quickly.”