Statement: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Sees Administration’s Budget Proposal as a Blueprint for Placing Americans’ Health and Safety at Risk

Posted 24 May 2017

Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. (May 24, 2017) — The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), the largest international scientific organization of tropical infectious disease experts, is alarmed by the Trump Administration’s proposed FY18 budget. Instead of protecting Americans’ health, the budget slashes resources for critical scientific research across the government agencies created to protect the health of Americans.
These cuts will put the health of millions of Americans at home and abroad at risk. Without adequate funding, tropical infectious disease experts cannot identify preventions, treatments and vaccines to curb and end diseases that can affect us all.

To stop disease here in the United States, we must stop it abroad. Ebola and Zika have shown that we cannot do this work or strengthen healthcare infrastructures in isolation from our international colleagues. In our interconnected world, they are our partners in research and delivery of care if we are to achieve a lasting success in reducing the burden of tropical diseases worldwide.

Cutting the funding of health agencies that protect us from existing and emerging infectious diseases—
including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) — and eliminating the NIH’s Fogarty International Center, which builds needed scientific capacity in partner countries, is short-sighted and dangerous. Here’s why:
  1. For NIH, the proposed cuts will erode decades of progress, wasting previous investments of resources. With infectious disease research already underfunded, the suggested budget cuts to the NIH will impact researchers and eliminate jobs in universities across the country, diminish U.S. scientific global leadership and drag down U.S. scientific advancement.
  2. Regarding the CDC, global tracking of existing and emerging disease outbreaks will be severely compromised. In addition, the agency’s ability to quickly and forcefully respond to a health emergency in another part of the world will be weakened, further placing Americans at needless risk.
  3. The health impact on the U.S. military is equally concerning. Slashing research not only hurts Americans at home but will place our men and women serving overseas at unnecessary risk. It is imperative that Army and Navy tropical medicine research be fully funded to protect our military personnel from health threats. Weapons aren’t the only protection they need.
ASTMH stands ready to work with the President and Congress on a budget that protects us from infectious diseases, spurs innovation, advances U.S. scientific leadership and improves health for everyone. We can do all of this without sacrificing jobs, lives and global health security.