The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to significantly reduce global aid in epidemic prevention activities, shrinking the agency's activity reach from 49 countries to 10, the Washington Post reports.
The CDC prevention programs are a result of a five-year package of $5 billion pledged in 2013 by the Obama administration to fight infectious diseases, such as Ebola, AIDS, Tuberculosis and other illnesses. From that package, which was approved by Congress in 2014, only $150 million remains for this fiscal year and the next, an official told the Post. Officials assumed that there "will be 'no new resources,'" one senior government official said.
Beginning in 2019, the CDC will phase out the program to include only 10 "priority countries," such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, Jordan, Nigeria, and Guatemala. Experts are concerned over the loss of funds and the minimization of prevention programs. At a point of "critical momentum" in global work to address epidemics in multiple countries, decreasing the funds and focus in these areas could mean even bigger and possibly more threatening epidemics.
In an effort to have the administration reconsider the plans, a coalition of over 200 global health organizations wrote a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The letter emphasized the program's role not just in public health, but also national security.
The U.S. also stands to lose vital information about epidemic threats garnered on the ground through trusted relationships, real-time surveillance, and research," the letter reads.
This report comes just days after the resignation of the director of the CDC, Brenda Fitzgerald. Officials began instructing staffers abroad to prepare for the downsizing, reported the Post.