NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–August 24, 2016. Today, Hillary Clinton released the following statement on her plans to bolster America’s public health infrastructure to deal with the new challenges facing our communities and our families, including a new Public Health Rapid Response Fund to better respond to public health emergencies. Throughout her campaign, Clinton has been outspoken about the need for Congress to respond to the Zika epidemic. And two weeks ago, she visited a medical center in Miami that has been treating Zika patients to learn more about what we can be doing:
“The United States faces new threats to public health, from pandemic diseases like those caused by the Ebola and the Zika viruses, to the risk of biological weapons and bioterrorism, to long-term challenges like more extreme weather and expanding ranges for Lyme disease and water-borne illnesses as a result of climate change. And in a global economy, diseases like SARS, MERS, and avian influenza cannot be contained in their countries of origin.
“But despite these threats, we are not investing in public health preparedness and emergency response the way we should to keep our families and communities safe. A 2015 study found that spending on public health had fallen more than 9 percent since 2008. And uncertain long-term budgets leave our public health agencies dependent on emergency appropriations—meaning that when Congress fails to step up, communities are left without the resources they need, vaccines languish in development, and more people get sick.
“That is why as President, I will create a Public Health Rapid Response Fund, with consistent, year-to-year budgets, to better enable the CDC, HHS, FEMA, state and local public health departments, hospital systems, and other federal agencies to quickly and aggressively respond to major public health crises and pandemics. I will also ensure that our government has strong leadership and is organized to better support and work with people on the ground facing public health challenges. Doctors and public health experts have been warning for months that the Zika virus was likely to reach the continental United States, but Congress has failed to pass the President’s emergency funding request. As a result, the Zika virus has gained a foothold in Miami, and 196 people have already been infected in the city—infections that may have been preventable.
“In addition, we need to do more to boost our preparedness for biological threats and bioweapons; to support research for new diagnostic tests, therapeutic treatments, and vaccines for emerging diseases; to build capacity in public health departments; to train the next cadre of public health professionals and ensure that public health and environmental health practices are standard to the educations of medical students; and to provide resources for states and local governments to plan for complex, multi-faceted public health threats, like the impacts of climate change, and build more resilient communities.”