Washington, DC— In wake of the “swine flu” outbreak, this past February, $900 million for pandemic influenza preparedness was stripped from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ridiculed by Karl Rove and congressional Republicans, the House bill included funds for biomedical advanced research and development, pandemic flu, and cyber security to help the nation better prevent or respond to a natural or man-made biological threat.
Once the bill left the Senate, all but $50 million was removed by the conference committee.
A pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn would be devastating to the American economy. People would be ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces closed to avoid the spread of disease, and demand for emergency services would intensify. And with no money for pandemic influenza preparedness, public health advocates say they will have to look to the regular budgeting process for the next chance to receive funding.
“It is a shame that in the face of a potential global flu epidemic, Republican members of Congress dubbed this funding as “reckless spending,” said Congressman Grijalva. “Not only is pandemic preparation essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy, but to the world’s overall public health.”
On Sunday April 26, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared a “public health emergency” and the Center for Disease Control is monitoring the situation.
“The Obama Administration is on top of this matter and people should not panic. However, this is a serious situation. But remain confident that the situation is manageable and will not pose a risk to Americans as we have seen in Mexico,” stated Grijalva.