Congress must invest in Zika prevention now. The virus is a serious international public health threat with devastating consequences for pregnant women and babies.
CONGRESS must act quickly to help stop the spread of the Zika virus.
As of April 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 400 cases throughout the U.S., including two in Washington, and infections in 33 pregnant women.
Lawmakers should grant President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency funding request to control Zika-carrying mosquitoes, develop a vaccine and assist countries dealing with much higher rates of infection.
Dr. William Dobyns, a Zika expert and pediatric neurologist at Seattle Children’s who is tracking its spread, showed The Seattle Times jarring photos of babies born to mothers infected with the virus. Some will never walk or talk.
Dobyns advises people to wear protective clothing and use insect repellent. Federal health officials also warn that Zika can spread through sexual contact, which is why some experts are encouraging women in susceptible areas to avoid pregnancy during the mosquito season.
This public health crisis adds another level of urgency to women’s health care access, especially for contraceptives that might slow the spread of Zika.
Washington’s U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are working to get their colleagues on board with Obama’s request. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, also has pledged her support for prevention funding in the House.
Every member of Congress should be focused on protecting women and infants from the horrible effects of the Zika virus.
Back in 2014, Congress and the president allocated $5.4 billion toward fighting Ebola.
They must come together again before it’s too late.