As Congress and the Administration consider the final Fiscal Year 2000 appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which represents over 41,000 members in the microbiological sciences, wishes to express concern about the reduction which has been proposed by Congress for infectious disease funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The proposed reduction of $16 million below the President's budget request for CDC's infectious disease programs will severely compromise support to federal, state, and local health agencies for surveillance and response activities related to combating serious diseases affecting the nation. If this reduction is adopted, efforts to implement prevention and control programs for antimicrobial resistance could be curtailed, despite the fact that rates of resistance are dramatically increasing. Although the country experiences an estimated 76 million cases and nearly 5 thousand deaths every year associated with foodborne infections, CDC's food safety activities could not be expanded.
It would also not be possible for Hepatitis C virus prevention and control programs to be established in states and support for pandemic influenza preparedness would not be available. The medical and work loss costs of HCV-related acute and chronic liver diseases are estimated to exceed $700 million annually. In the United States alone, an influenza pandemic would cause an estimated 89,000 to 207,000 deaths and the economic impact would range from $71-$167 billion. The reduced level of funding for CDC infectious disease programs will, in effect, discontinue building state epidemiology and laboratory capacity. The West Nile-like virus in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey is the most recent example of a new and reemerging infectious disease to threaten public health and challenge the capacity of local public health agencies to respond to such threats.
The CDC's role in ensuring the nation's public health is critical, and the agency has a proven record as a world leader in protecting human health. Without adequate resources, however, the agency cannot operate effectively to identify, monitor and combat infectious diseases, which are the leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the United States. The ASM urges Congress and the Administration to restore the $16 million and adopt the President's budget request for CDC infectious disease programs in the final fiscal year 2000 Labor/HHS appropriations bill.
We appreciate your consideration of our concerns about CDC funding and for your continuing support of public health programs supported by the CDC.