Baltimore City Health Commissioner Commends Congress for Allocating Funding to Prevent Spread of Zika Virus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (September 29, 2016) – Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement in response to Congress’ decision to provide funding to combat the Zika virus as a part of a short-term spending bill passed last night:

“While I am glad that Congress has finally answered the call to address the alarming threat of the Zika virus, the many months of delay highlight the need for a national public health emergency response fund.

“The key to public health is prevention, which means that we cannot just look at the cost of an intervention—we must consider the costs of doing nothing. According to the CDC, a child born with severe birth defects from Zika can cost society up to $10 million in health and educational expenses. It would be irresponsible and inhumane to let our children to be born with devastating—and preventable—consequences.”

“In Baltimore, we have been forced to redirect existing resources and staff from other critical efforts to prepare and respond to disease outbreaks and other emergencies. Considering the potential economic and national security implications, it is unfortunate that Congress took months to provide these critical resources.

“In times of pandemics and rapidly spreading disease, local health departments must be fully equipped with the resources necessary to keep our residents safe.

“I commend Congress for finally answering the call of local jurisdictions to join the fight against the potential spread of the Zika virus, and call on them to strengthen, not limit, local capacity to respond to future public health threats.”

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