Georges Benjamin

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, said that the lack of congressional funding for Zika outbreak response “will place tremendous strain on public health departments and communities.”

Today marks the beginning of Congress’ seven-week recess without any dedicated funding to protect Americans from the Zika virus infection.

Last week APHA expressed great disappointment at Congress’ failing to reach an agreement for outbreak response before its summer break. Congress now will not be able to fund Zika prevention and research until September at the earliest.

Since 2015 more than 3,600 people in the U.S. and U.S. territories have contracted the virus, a cause of microcephaly, other major fetal birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

“The tragedy runs deeper than the number of babies who will be harmed and the spread of disease that Congress has ignored,” APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, said in a news release. “It’s also the fact that the public health dangers of not passing legislation were well recognized, and still nothing was done.

“It doesn’t make sense, it’s irresponsible and it will place tremendous strain on public health departments and communities. Even when Congress comes back, the situation will be worse and require more resources to appropriately combat.”

Check out APHA’s Zika page for resources that will help you learn more about the virus.