US Congress must view Ebola threat as a national security issue

WASHINGTON, DC - Several organizations today called on Congress (see letter) to designate funding directly to hospitals, as it is hospitals that are the front lines of the fight against Ebola.

US Congress must view Ebola threat as a national security issue

WASHINGTON, DC – Several organizations today called on Congress (see letter) to designate funding directly to hospitals, as it is hospitals that are the front lines of the fight against Ebola. Infectious diseases and global health is one of the national security threats the US is facing today and going.

“I applaud everyone for their support and efforts to bring attention to the U.S. Congress to use this discussion surrounding the fight against Ebola as a teachable moment—where we recognize that our world is becoming increasingly interrelated and interdependent, whereby we are all mutually vulnerable,” said Congressman Dellums.

As the Appropriations Committees consider President Obama’s request for $6.2 billion in special funding to fight Ebola, it is critical that hospitals receive the funding necessary to protect American communities from the deadly virus.

“Congress should take this opportunity to deal with the Ebola threat and think comprehensively about future natural diseases and the protocols, resources and policies at the federal, state and local levels to combat current and future threats.”

“As former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, I believe it’s vital our national security agenda going forward needs to embrace the reality of the current threat landscape which must include preventing and containing the spread of infectious diseases abroad and at home. We cannot forget our hospitals here at home—as they are the first responders to fight these diseases and require sufficient resources and protocols to do so,” continued Dellums.
In West Africa, Ebola has stricken more than 13,000 people and has become a global public health crisis. In order to prevent a similar outcome in the United States, hospitals need appropriate financial resources to renovate, purchase costly equipment and conduct extensive staff training.

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Existing appropriations are not adequate. The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), the primary federal program for hospital emergency preparedness, has been cut to bare bones, and the President’s FY 2015 budget requested no increase for the program.

Yet, the hospitals designated to treat Ebola are being asked to increase their readiness dramatically. The bill for one hospital dealing with Ebola can mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient, per day – draining crucial resources. For example, at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center, where Doctors Without Borders physician Craig Spencer was treated for Ebola, the hospital spent $100,000 each day he was admitted on waste treatment and disposal alone. Adequate funding for hospitals is critical in order to provide quality and effective care for impacted patients.
“The bottom line is that we want to ensure that American communities are protected from Ebola,” Dellums and the other letter signatories continued. “Public health has to be our No. 1 priority as a nation. Designated investment in our hospitals on the front lines is the key to preventing an Ebola outbreak in the United States. That’s why I’m proud to urge Congress to provide funding well in excess of what the Administration has requested for hospitals to meet this new challenge.”

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