DCHHS Raises the alarm on Zika Response Emergency Funding
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) Director Zachary Thompson has teamed up with public health experts across the nation to discuss the ongoing state of the Zika virus outbreak and how combatting Zika virus could be undermined as federal funding wanes.
Director Thompson was joined by the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the March of Dimes to host a webinar for media partners addressing the role of local health departments in fighting the disease with Public Health Emergency Preparedness funding.
Public Health Emergency funding aids local health departments to effectively respond to a range of public health threats, including infectious diseases, natural disasters, biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events.
The current administration has proposed a 109 million dollar budget cut from the emergency preparedness fund, which will directly impact local health department’s response in emergency situations.
“Any cuts to public health preparedness are unacceptable and we hope that this will be revisited by Congress,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS’ director.
“All public health is on a national level, however, you will see that the response is local. To have any cuts will have a dire impact on local health departments in terms of staffing and response.”
Federal funding through the CDC directly affects DCHHS Zika response. The majority of DCHHS emergency response staff is funded through public health preparedness. This includes the DCHHS Laboratory, Epidemiology (disease detectives), Environmental Health/Vector Control and the overall local health department infrastructure.
DCHHS currently uses sustained funding for day-to-day tasks, however the emergency funding affects local preparation and response to disease outbreaks, including a potential locally transmitted case of Zika. In the state of an emergency, these funds are critical to protecting the health of citizens in Dallas County through disease prevention and intervention.