Markey Joins Senate Effort in Pressing World Health Organization to Address Spread of Yellow Fever
Today, in a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey joined Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) and a group of senators in pressing the WHO to address the concerning spread of yellow fever.
Yellow fever is a life-threatening disease that is spreading in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and elsewhere. The disease is spread by the same species of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus, which thrives in densely populated, urban areas. While there is no specific treatment for yellow fever, a highly-effective vaccine already exists and is key to controlling the virus and preventing future outbreaks.
"As we have seen with the Ebola outbreak and now Zika, infectious diseases know no borders," wrote the senators. "The alarming spread of yellow fever virus in Africa warrants immediate attention. Fortunately, an affordable, highly effective vaccine does exist—and has existed for nearly 80 years. [We ask that WHO] draw on recommendations issued by public health experts to hasten efforts to address the emerging outbreak."
"The recommendation [is] simple: vaccinate more people in endemic countries and ensure all travelers receive vaccinations to contain the outbreak."
At a recent roundtable convened by Sen. Franken and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the senators heard directly from infectious disease experts who raised the alarm on the need to address yellow fever, as well as the Zika virus. You can read a copy of the letter here, which was signed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Angus King (I-Maine), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Health Committee, has been fighting for stronger funding and better coordination to prevent and respond to global health crises. In February, Sen. Franken introduced bipartisan legislation to incentivize the development of a treatment and vaccine for the Zika virus, which President Obama signed into law in April.
Sen. Franken has also fought hard to protect our public health infrastructure and our investments in medical innovation and research since coming to the Senate. And, during last year's budget negotiations, he pressed his Senate colleagues to maintain a strong commitment to funding the National Institutes of Health. More recently, he's championed scientific and medical research by supporting the Medical Innovation Act, which would help ensure that the U.S. continues to produce life-saving discoveries and maintains its standing as a global leader in research.