ASTMH Advocacy

Tips to Use When Meeting with Elected Officials

The 2016 Annual Meeting included the session, "The Washington, DC Primer: Advocating for R&D Funding – The Who, What, Where, Why, &  How," which focused on advocacy efforts with presenters Past President Stephen Higgs, PhD, FRES, FASTMH, Jodie Curtis of the District Policy Group and ASTMH Executive Director Karen A. Goraleski.

Curtis, of the District Policy Group, provided background on the then-current state of funding of neglected disease research and the role of U.S. government agencies such as NIH, CDC, USAID and DoD. The presentation, “Where Does Global Health Funding Come From?,” also included practical tips for researchers to use when meeting with an elected official to convey their concerns.  

View a copy of Jodie’s slide deck here and feel free to use it for reaching out to your elected officials to emphasize the importance of the US government’s global health R&D funding.

Presidents urge Congress to take action on Zika


About ASTMH Advocacy

Advocating for investments (U.S. federal funding) in tropical medicine/global health research and development (R&D) is a key component of ASTMH’s mission as a professional scientific society. The Society has as one of its top priorities the need to inform Members of Congress and their staff on the value and importance of robust funding for tropical medicine/global health programs. With strategic input from the society’s government relations experts, the Council identifies the specific areas of focus for lobbying and advocacy efforts, such as tropical medicine/global health programs within NIH, CDC, Department of Defense and USAID.   

ASTMH engages in targeted lobbying and advocacy initiatives throughout the year including participating in Capitol Hill meetings, submitting expert testimony to Congress, and collaborating with partner organizations on shared appropriation and policy goals. ASTMH members offer a unique ability to magnify the Society’s efforts by contacting their own members of Congress’ offices through emails and visits. A strong U.S. investment in global health research and development saves lives and saves money, and advocacy by the scientific community is essential to protecting those investments. 

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FY 2016 US Federal Funding Tropical Medicine/Global Health

Agency FY 2015 Final FY 2016 Final % Change from
FY 2015 Final
NIH $30 Billion $32 Billion + 6.6%
NIAID $4.3 Billion $4.6 Billion + 6.2%
Fogarty $67.7 Million $70.4 Million + 3.9%
CDC $6.8 Billion $7.2 Billion + 4.8%
CDC Parasitic Diseases and Malaria $24.3 Million $24.5 Million + 0.5%
CDC Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious $404.9 Million $527.8 Million + 30.3%
USAID Global Health/Child Survival $2.7 Billion $2.8 Billion + 1.7%
USAID NTDs $100 Million $100 Million -
USAID Malaria $669.5 Million $674 Million + 0.6%

Why should you  as an individual – advocate?

  • Members of Congress need and want to hear from you, their constituents.
  • If Members don’t hear from individual members of the science community, they are hearing from someone else and someone else’s issues will get prioritized.
  • Lobbyists can be a good resource, but “real scientists” have the expertise, stories and experiences that carry the most meaning to policymakers and staff.
  • Members value the opinion of constituents (you vote them in and vote them out) and you can shape the advocacy process by engaging with policymakers. 

Malaria no more and ASTMH reception on Capitol Hill 2016

ASTMH Leadership May 2015 Hill Day Prep (PPT)

April 9, 2015, Letter Re Federal Employee Travel Restrictions to Attend Scientific Conferences

ASTMH Testimony to House Labor Health Human Services Appropriations 2016

ASTMH Testimony to House in Support of Stronger Department of Defense Tropical Medicine 2016

Advocacy Pointers 

  • Talk about the work you do and address why it matters to the U.S. (remember U.S. taxpayers are paying for this so Congress also wants to be sure they hear what the U.S. gets out of this investment). Be brief! 
  • Members of Congress need a personal story – the work you do, the lives saved, the jobs created, the economic impact, the security impact, etc.
  • In this economic climate, hearing about job creation via research dollars is high on the list of what policymakers and staff are interested to hearing about. 
  • Do a little bit of homework and familiarize yourself with your Member’s position on various policy issues by looking at their website. 
  • Have a clear “ask” when visiting your Member (e.g, “I’d like you to visit our lab and see what we are doing on xyz”) and be sure to provide local examples (e.g., “Our latest grant brought $xx to our state and created xx jobs; here’s why studying malaria at Xxx Midwestern University matters to the people who live in our state”). 
  • Always follow up with your Member after a meeting by sending a short thank you letter/email. 

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) — the nation’s leading professional organization for tropical medicine — represents approximately 4,000 researchers and clinicians engaged in the battle against infectious and tropical disease in the United States and internationally. ASTMH promotes global health through research and education to prevent and control tropical diseases.