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Shortsighted Budget Cuts Threaten Public Health at Home and Abroad

A Statement of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Center for Global Health Policy

Feb. 11, 2011 - The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), and the Center for Global Health Policy understand the need to get the nation's fiscal house in order. But as infectious disease and HIV experts, we have seen how cuts in critical funding for federal health agencies have devastated the lives of Americans and people around the globe. Although the cuts now being proposed by House leaders may appear "penny wise," we believe they are "pound foolish."

The short-sighted cuts for Fiscal Year 2011 proposed by the House Appropriations Committee for these agencies will have an immediate and devastating impact on the health of many in the United States and abroad. Particularly at risk are those who may be exposed to life-threatening drug-resistant bacterial infections, influenza, HIV, tuberculosis, or other infectious diseases. These diseases affect not only those who become ill but plague the communities where people live, work, and study, creating dangerous outbreaks and driving up health care costs.

Cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the United States Agency for International Development, and other agencies would mean a dangerous step backwards for patients' health, here and around the world. These cuts will translate into reduced surveillance and control programs to protect people from antimicrobial resistance, inadequate screening and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis, and fewer people receiving immunizations against life-threatening but preventable diseases. Hard-fought progress in extending life-saving and cost-effective treatment and prevention programs to those who need them most would be threatened. Cutting funding at the proposed levels would dramatically slow or derail innovations from biomedical research. An analysis published just this month in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores the important benefits this research funding has on improving public health [i] . This important work also drives economic development in communities across the country.

The recession and budget cuts by governments at all levels - federal, state, and local - are jeopardizing our fragile gains in public health and threaten the research that is our best hope for the future. The public health "safety net" has never been more at risk. As more people have less access to quality public health and preventive programs, health care costs will continue to soar, and patients will suffer. The proposals by the House Appropriations Committee will only aggravate an already dire situation. We must strengthen these critical investments in our shared health for the future. Shortsighted cuts will lead to dramatically higher costs tomorrow, measured not just in dollars but in care provided to those suffering from diseases that could have been prevented, fewer medical advances, and lives lost.

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[i]Stevens AJ, Jensen JJ, Wyller K, et al. The Role of Public-Sector Research in the Discovery of Drugs and Vaccines. N Engl J Med 2011;364:535-41.

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is an organization of physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious diseases research, education, patient care, prevention, and public health. The Society, which has more than 9,000 members, was founded in 1963 and is based in Arlington, Va. For more information, see www.idsociety.org .

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is the professional home for more than 3,800 physicians, scientists and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. For more information, visit:   www.hivma.org .

The Center for Global Health Policy is an organization of physicians and scientists dedicated to promoting the effective use of U.S. funding for addressing the global HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics by providing scientific and policy information to policymakers, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the media. The Center is a project of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Education and Research Foundation. For more information, visit: www.idsaglobalhealth.org .

 

CONTACT:
John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412

Meredith Mazzotta
mmazzotta@idsociety.org
703-740-4954


"Reproduced with permission - "Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)"

Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
www.idsociety.org


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