THE 2019 U.S. BUDGET PROCESS: A THREAT TO AMERICA’S CAPACITY TO RESPOND TO MICROBIAL THREATS AND ASSURE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), the largest international scientific organization of tropical infectious disease experts, is alarmed by the White House’s 2019 budget proposal that would decrease support for critical activities, including research in key government agencies designed to protect the health of millions of Americans at home and abroad. The United States has long been a global leader in science and innovation, resulting in lives saved and jobs created. This budget request puts U.S. contributions to both science and public health at risk.
Deep cuts, particularly for the CDC’s areas of Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases and Global Health, will compromise the ability of infectious disease experts to quickly and forcefully respond to national and global health emergencies from diseases like Zika and Ebola, or to even manage the widespread U.S. flu epidemic.
At the NIH, budget cuts for infectious disease and global health research will erode decades of progress that benefits Americans and others around the world, and jeopardize the pressing need to prepare for emerging threats that develop in all areas of the world.
With millions of travelers to and from the U.S. every year, we know that border precautions cannot stop infectious diseases. We must ensure that our capacity as a nation to continue the work to identify diseases—and develop and use preventions, treatments and vaccines that would affect us all—is strong.
To do so, we must continue to fund research and public health outreach outside of U.S. shores in a cooperative manner. We cannot conduct global health research and work to strengthen healthcare infrastructures in isolation from our international colleagues.
Just as we invest in a strong military to protect our country from armed threats, we also need a strong research and global health infrastructure to guard us from the threats of the microbial world. ASTMH understands that protecting ourselves from infectious diseases, investing in innovation and advancing U.S. scientific leadership can be done without sacrificing jobs, lives and global health security.
ASTMH was pleased to see that Congress acted in a bipartisan manner last year to support key public health and research programs. Now we have a similar opportunity to consider the return on investment that Americans receive through global health research and public health programs. We will continue to track progress as the budget proceeds and we stand ready to work with Congress to demonstrate the value of global health research.