As conference discussions begin to reconcile differences in the FY 2001 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) urges you to adopt the Senate recommended level of $20.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The ASM represents over 42,000 scientists and health professionals who promote research and research training in the microbiological sciences to improve health, economic well being and the environment.
As an organization knowledgeable about infectious diseases and public health threats, ASM supports a $2.7 billion increase at NIH, as a critical investment in basic and clinical research, which will lead to further advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention to improve health for the American public. There are now more research avenues to invest in and opportunities to capitalize on than ever before in history. The rate of progress in medical discovery is directly related to the resources available for medical research. We, therefore, urge Congress to provide a 15 percent increase for NIH in FY 2001 and to continue the effort to double the NIH budget by 2003.
ASM is concerned, however, about the inadequate resources in both the Senate and House Labor/HHS/ED appropriations bills for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget. ASM supports a total funding level of $4.1 billion for CDC to respond to an array of continuing and new public health challenges. As the "Nation's Prevention Agency," the CDC is charged with promoting health and quality of life by anticipating, identifying, preventing and controlling diseases and other public heath threats. The CDC must have adequate resources to expect and be prepared for unexpected public health emergencies throughout the country and across the globe, including, for example, a bioterrorism event, a global influenza pandemic, a large scale environmental disease threat or an unforeseen public health danger.
In particular, substantial new funding is needed to enable CDC to fully implement its comprehensive plan, "Preventing Infectious Disease: A Strategy for the 21st Century." The ASM believes that an additional $162 million over FY 2000 would achieve the CDC goals set forth in 1998 for emerging infections. These goals include a broad range of improvements to such critical functions as detection and prevention of emerging pathogens, communication among all levels of government health agencies, and integration of laboratory science with on-site epidemiology. Infectious diseases are a crisis of global proportions which threaten gains in health and life expectancy and which are now the worlds' biggest killer of children and young adults.
Continuing an investment in both NIH and CDC, is an investment in health and security for the entire world. ASM appreciates your commitment to these critical research and public health funding matters and stands ready to assist you as the appropriations process moves forward.