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Funding for medical research and public health must reflect reality

Funding for medical research and public health must reflect reality
Infectious Disease News, July 2017
William Powderly, MD

The last few years have seen a growing force of infectious disease challenges that together pose an unprecedented range of threats to health here in the United States and in countries around the world where Americans travel and conduct business. While outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, SARS and MERS have spread from their places of origin with devastating impacts, rising rates of resistance to antimicrobial drugs threaten the gains of modern medicine at home and globally. New and re-emerging diseases with pandemic potential continue to surface, and diseases that include tuberculosis, once considered all but conquered, have evolved faster than the medicines to control them, to pose new dangers.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the oldest and largest association of physicians, scientists and other health care professionals specializing in preventing and treating transmissible illnesses, has recognized these threats. We have worked for more than a decade to raise awareness that antibiotic development is falling far short of need, and urged accelerated and immediate action in research, education, training, evidence-based practice and informed medical stewardship to improve our capacities to detect, prevent and respond to infectious diseases at home and abroad. We recognize that when medical research lags, pathogens gain ground, and that in an increasingly connected world, we cannot afford the costs that infections that are not countered by effective interventions inflict on families and communities, on individual and public health. And we are concerned because the budget proposal released by the Trump administration for the coming fiscal year does not reflect recognition of any of these realities.

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