US lawmakers are calling for the creation of a fund to cope with outbreaks of infectious disease, Morning Consult reports.
In a letter, 21 members of Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — request that $300 million be included in the House Appropriations health subcommittee's fiscal year 2018 spending bill to grapple with outbreaks. They likened such a fund to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund, which helps the agency respond to natural disasters.
The letter's authors note that, in just the past few years, there have been threats from the H1N1 influenza, MERS, Ebola, and Zika viruses. They further add that there are concerns that a yellow fever outbreak may spread to the US. They say that this is "not only an urgent public health concern, it is a matter of national security," alluding to an assessment by James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence.
"We cannot afford to be caught flat-footed or constrained in our ability to respond and provide aid in a timely and comprehensive manner when the next public health crisis emerges," the letter says.