by Daniel Bausch, MD, MPH&TM, Tulane University/NAMRU-6, Lima, Peru
This week I went to Capitol Hill with a group of fellow ASTMH researchers to advocate for U.S. funding for research in tropical medicine and global health. I was impressed how easily the Congressmen and staffers--regardless of political affiliation--captured the message and asked intelligent questions in return.
We discussed the importance of NIH, CDC and DoD funding of tropical medicine research, emphasizing three points:
- Understanding tropical diseases and helping control them overseas is not only the right thing to do, it is in the interest of America's national health and security.
- Research is a major economic driver, providing high-quality jobs across the country.
- Failure to fund this research places the U.S. at risk to lose its historical scientific edge.
What I learned was that we researchers need to be the "squeaky wheel." The overall response from Congress was, "Yes, we support research, but there is only so much money to go around. Something has got to go." That "something" can't be research. While it's probably not realistic to expect an increase this year, we have to keep telling our elected officials about the value of tropical medicine research to the U.S. It is our only hope to stave off cuts and ultimately to save lives, which is why we do this work in the first place.