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March 2017
A Voice for Science in Washington, DC
William G. Powderly,
MD, FIDSA, President

As I have written before, IDSA continues to actively engage the new administration, vowing to remain committed to our priorities as a Society, guided by what matters most to the physicians and scientists we represent and the patients we care for. The budget blueprint released recently from the Trump administration, while containing a few rays of hope, also provides significant cause for concern.

Of utmost concern, the blueprint proposes a $5.8 billion cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a restructuring of the Health and Human Services (HHS) emergency preparedness programs and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activities that would likely result in cuts.

On a positive note, it also includes an important new federal emergency response fund for outbreak response and cites as key priorities the Ryan White program and efforts to address opioid abuse, which has fueled new cases of HIV and hepatitis C.

The budget blueprint would also honor U.S. commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as global immunization efforts while maintaining PEPFAR funding for patients currently receiving antiretroviral treatment, although the administration’s commitment to maintaining PEPFAR’s overall budget is unclear.

For more detail, I encourage you to view IDSA’s and HIVMA’s official statements on the budget. Below are some highlights from IDSA:

Strengthening America’s role as the world leader in biomedical research and investing in the next generation of scientists are longstanding bipartisan priorities that have led to unrivalled health and economic benefits for the country. While it is unclear exactly how the $5.8 billion proposed cut to NIH would be apportioned, IDSA strongly opposes any funding cut to infectious diseases research and has serious concerns about the proposed elimination of the Fogarty International Center which has made many contributions to infectious disease education and training. NIH has led essential research to develop new vaccines in response to outbreaks, new tools to address antimicrobial resistance, and breakthroughs in HIV.

IDSA also strongly supports the essential role of the CDC in keeping America safe from infectious diseases threats, including outbreaks and other emergencies, as well as everyday threats such as vaccine-preventable illnesses and antimicrobial resistance. IDSA has repeatedly called for the creation of a new public health emergency fund to ensure that the U.S. can respond rapidly to outbreaks, and we are pleased to see such a proposal included in the blueprint. However, many important details about CDC’s budget remain unclear. In particular, IDSA is concerned that cuts to preparedness funding would hamper state and local health departments’ abilities to prepare for and respond to a variety of issues, such as foodborne illnesses, influenza, and Zika.

As with any budget blueprint, this is a proposal, and one that is sure to face a great deal of scrutiny as it moves through the legislative process. IDSA will continue to advocate for the funding necessary to keep the public safe from infectious diseases and continue important research progress. Earlier this month, I joined other members of IDSA’s Board of Directors and our staff to meet with congressional offices, including staff for Sen. Roy Blunt, from my home state of Missouri, who chairs the congressional subcommittee charged with funding public health and health research agencies and programs. We discussed federal funding for research and public health, as well as ID physician compensation and antimicrobial resistance. IDSA has also been leading advocacy efforts for coalitions of other organizations who share our priorities, hosting congressional briefings to spotlight our issues, and will continue making the case for a robust federal investment in ID research and public health.

Your voice is essential to our voice being heard. Most assuredly, you will be seeing action alerts and requests to reach out to Congress and to share your stories about how federal funding supports your work or impacts your patients and communities. Our only chance of being successful is for you to answer those requests. 

March for Science

An exciting opportunity to lend your voice is coming up next month. A March for Science has been planned for April 22 (Earth Day) in Washington, DC, with concurrent events scheduled in satellite cities around the country. The Earth Day Network and the March for Science are co-organizing a rally and a teach-in on the National Mall, which will include speeches and trainings with scientists and civic organizers to highlight the vital public service role science plays in our communities and the world.

IDSA and HIVMA will be organizing a group for the march in Washington, DC and can provide materials that may be used for signs, posters or social media efforts for satellite events around the country. Use this link to let us know where you’ll be marching and to sign up to receive details regarding meeting locations for the march in Washington or printable materials for your local efforts. Learn more about the March for Science on the official event page, and find updates on IDSA/HIVMA’s efforts on our site.

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