Announcements

June 24, 2019

President Signs Bill Reinforcing Fight Against Disease Threats. Focus Now Turns to Funding.

Statement from Jamie Bay Nishi, Director, Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPAI), signed into law today by President Trump, which reauthorizes the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

This legislation is an important step forward in strengthening our nation’s preparedness against global disease threats. We applaud the Administration and Congress for recognizing that protecting our nation’s health requires deploying BARDA’s unique capabilities to combat all hazards—not only chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, but naturally occurring health threats as well. 

The legislation’s authorization of Strategic Initiatives to develop countermeasures against emerging infectious diseases, pandemic influenza and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens is a welcome move in fortifying our nation’s public health defenses.

Now, Congress must match this authorization with strong investments in BARDA so the agency can deliver innovations against the full spectrum of health threats we face. 

Most of BARDA’s work on emerging infectious diseases has been funded piecemeal through emergency appropriations for Zika and Ebola, funding now nearly depleted—even as the Ebola outbreak escalates. This funding by crisis approach is inadequate. It undermines our ability to prepare for future threats. 

The House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriation provides a modest increase for BARDA, which is welcome. But a larger investment is needed for BARDA to fully and equitably fund the breadth of disease threats within its mandate and capitalize on recent scientific advances to generate innovations that could dramatically boost our capacity to neutralize potentially catastrophic outbreaks.

BARDA’s reinforced authority to pursue Strategic Initiatives against naturally occurring threats can provide a significant contribution to our nation’s defenses. But this authority is of limited value without sufficient funding. We urge Congress to provide BARDA with a budget that is aligned with its mandate—and its unique capacity to deliver new tools to fight back against intensifying threats like Ebola; unexpected emergencies like Zika; and smoldering problems, like the steady, ominous rise in drug-resistant infections, and the near certainty of a future fight against a deadly strain of pandemic influenza.  

Diseases punish the unprepared. We need a research infrastructure primed for a rapid response. That requires a strong, reliable investment in BARDA distributed across a diverse and promising research portfolio.

CONTACT: Katy Lenard, klenard@burness.com, +1 301-280-5719

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