MEDICAL: DISEASES: ZIKA VIRUS : COUNTRIES: UNITED STATES : POLITICS: If Zika Spreads in the US, Blame the Politicians, Not the Mosquitoes

 

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MEDICAL: DISEASES: ZIKA VIRUS :

COUNTRIES: UNITED STATES :

POLITICS:

If Zika Spreads in the US, Blame the Politicians,
Not the Mosquitoes

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If Zika Spreads in the US, Blame the Politicians,
Not the Mosquitoes

Benjamin Spoer

OBSESSION

Contagion

August 07, 2016

Quartz

http://qz.com/752233/if-zika-spreads-in-the-us-
blame-the-politicians-not-the-mosquitos/

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/zbx9ryh

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Zika is a growing problem in the USand partisan politics may make it much worse. As of this week (Aug.3), 1,825 cases of Zika had been identified in the continental US, and 15 babies had been born with Zika-related birth defects, including microcephaly, which causes debilitating health problems.

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Yet the US government has failed to reach an agreement on funding Zika prevention and research, risking our health by using the epidemic as an opportunity to advance political agendas. Its Americas poor that stand to suffer most.

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A divisive political climate has crippled Americas response to epidemics like Zika, according to Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. As a rule we have seen more and more dysfunction around things in the public health sphere which were never controversial before, Benjamin says. Public health has always been controversial, but [outbreak funding] has never really been debatable. Unfortunately, recent changes in the political climate, exemplified by the battle over the Affordable Care Act, have made this funding contentious like never before.

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While politicians have wasted time figuring out how to handle Zika, the virus has gotten a foothold in the US. In Florida last week, four cases of Zika caused by local transmission were identified. Early last month, a Utah man died from Zika, and doctors dont know how it killed him or how he contracted the disease. If the US doesnt respond to the virus spread quickly and effectively, we risk it becoming a full-blown epidemic.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and its affiliated agencies are responsible for handling small-scale public health emergencies, as well as maintaining medicine stockpiles. This year, the agency received $1.4 billion from the federal government for these efforts. But funding for larger-scale emergencies has to come from Congress.
In the past, this process has been straightforward. The CDC tells legislators it needs more money, a bill is drawn up and, until recently, it was passed without much politicking.

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When the West Nile Virus first appeared in New York City in August 1999, for example, extra money was made available to combat the virus, which killed seven people, within five months. During the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009, the first cases were identified in April and supplemental funding was announced in early June, less than three months later. Comparatively, it has been seven months since the first case of Zika was discovered in Puerto Rico.

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But funding for public health has become much more political in the wake of the battle over president Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act (ACA). The problems began in 2013, when House Republicans let the government shut down because they didnt want to fund the ACA. This normalized the idea that politicians could take drastic measures to fight controversial public health legislation. Funding for the two major disease outbreaks since then (Zika and, to a lesser extent, Ebola), have both come up against political resistance from a divided Congress.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 – 4584
jwne@temple.edu
http://workface.com/e/daviddillard

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