SOURCE: American Medical Association

American Medical Association

June 14, 2016 15:28 ET

AMA Urges Congress to Provide Immediate Funding to Help Combat Zika Virus

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - June 14, 2016) - Amidst growing concerns about the nation's ability to respond to the Zika virus, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted policy during its Annual meeting urging Congress to act swiftly to provide sufficient funding to combat the virus.

"Without sufficient funding for research, prevention, control and treatment of illnesses associated with the Zika virus, the United States will be ill-equipped to deploy the kind of public health response needed to keep our citizens safe and healthy," said incoming AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. "We are calling on Congress to immediately ensure adequate funding to help combat the Zika virus that will very soon impact the health and well-being of our citizens, and put unborn babies at unnecessary risk for birth defects and complications."

This new policy builds on earlier vigorous calls from the AMA for a robust response to Zika. In May, the AMA sent letters to Congress asking for immediate action to make available the necessary resources to prepare our nation to address the looming threat of the virus.

The AMA also adopted policy today encouraging the reauthorization and appropriation of sufficient funding for a public health emergency fund within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that can be used to respond to public health emergencies, without redistributing funds from existing public health accounts.

Dr. Gurman continued: "A dedicated, fully-funded public health emergency fund would allow the federal government to quickly direct funding for public health emergencies without having to await Congressional action. Public health crises can happen at any time, and whether we address pressing needs should not depend on the Congressional calendar."

Additionally, in an effort to create awareness and limit misconceptions about transmission of the Zika virus, the AMA's new policy officially opposes quarantine measures for Zika-infected patients as scientific evidence shows that quarantine is not an appropriate public health response to control the spread of the virus.

"The AMA has long advocated for policies to address public health emergencies and will continue to support efforts to ensure that our country provides adequate resources to protect our citizens from preventable illness," said Dr. Gurman.

Earlier this year, the AMA created an online Zika Virus Resource Center with the most up-to-date information from the CDC and other trusted health organizations-providing a timely resource to help physicians prepare to handle possible cases of the virus and answer patients' questions.

About the AMA
The American Medical Association is the premier national organization dedicated to empowering the nation's physicians to continually provide safer, higher quality, and more efficient care to patients and communities. For more than 165 years the AMA has been unwavering in its commitment to using its unique position and knowledge to shape a healthier future for America. For more information, visit ama-assn.org.

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