Markey Calls for Permanent White House Point Person to Coordinate Zika, Emerging Infectious Disease Threats

Lawmaker calls for building on emergency investments made during Ebola outbreak to help create a sustainable emergency health response model for the United States

Washington (March 31, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Africa and Global Health subcommittee, this week called on President Obama to designate a White House-level position to oversee all emerging infectious disease threats, including the Zika virus, and to outline a plan that establishes a rapid response system and infrastructure to ensure the nation is prepared for the next global health threat. Recent influenza and Ebola pandemics showed how slow development of a coordinated approach among the various U.S. agencies and international partners reduced and delayed the ability of the United States to respond to these threats. In order to quickly mobilize a response to a major outbreak domestically, systems and infrastructure need to be put in place to deal with logistics efficiently and effectively.

“To maximize effectiveness, there should be a single person at the White House responsible for organizing policy and interagency efforts as well as liaising with our international and domestic partners in the face of the infectious disease pandemic,” writes Senator Markey in the letter to President Obama. “It is important, in our increasingly interconnected and globalized world, that such a coordinating function is established and made permanent to address not only the immediate potential threat from Zika but the next, more dangerous and more easily communicable pandemic that will eventually hit home.”

 

A copy of Senator Markey’s letter to President Obama can be found HERE.

 

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