Obama admin says it won't use Ebola funding to combat Zika

2016-02-10 10:04
US President Barack Obama. (Mandel Ngan, AFP)

US President Barack Obama. (Mandel Ngan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington – The Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a Republican suggestion to use money Congress provided to fight the Ebola virus to combat the Zika virus and mosquitoes that spread it.

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8bn in emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus. There has been no transmission of the virus by mosquitoes within the US, but at least 50 travellers have returned home with the infection. At least 16 cases have been confirmed in Florida.

Republican Sen Roy Blunt, who heads an appropriations subcommittee on health, said the administration has money left over that was allocated to fight Ebola and other infectious diseases.

"So there's no immediate shortage of money for the administration to do what they think needs to be done," Blunt told reporters on Tuesday.

But Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said she and other administration officials "believe we need to finish the job in terms of Ebola" and focus separately on Zika.

"We want to do both of them and we are going to do both," Burwell said after she and other top officials briefed congressional leaders late on Tuesday on efforts to combat Zika.

Burwell, who was set to testify before Congress this week on the administration's funding request, called the briefing "a great opportunity to talk about the (Zika) disease and ... the facts about what we do know and don't know about the disease."

While experts don't expect large outbreaks in the continental US, the emergency funding would help officials prepare for any local transmission as spring and summer approach. The administration is seeking the Zika money separately from the regular budget for the next fiscal year that Obama submitted to Congress on Tuesday.

"The urgency is learning what we can to do to fight it," Burwell said, adding that the disease had already shown up in Puerto Rico. "We need to put those things in place now."

Most of the money would go to improving laboratory testing capacity, education and establishing rapid response teams. About $250m of assistance would be directed specifically to Puerto Rico through extra federal funding for health services, and $200m would go toward research and commercialisation of new vaccines and diagnostic tests.

About $335m would go to the US Agency for International Development to help affected countries train health workers and help pregnant women gain access to mosquito repellent.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  zika virus

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.