Obama seeks $1.8B to prevent, combat Zika virus

President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help the U.S. respond to and combat the growing Zika virus crisis.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that is spreading throughout the world — there are 26 countries and territories in the Americas with local Zika transmission, according to the White House, and there were 50 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika among U.S. travelers reported from December 2015 through Feb. 5.

"As spring and summer approach, bringing with them larger and more active mosquito populations, we must be fully prepared to mitigate and quickly address transmission within the continental U.S.," a White House statement reads.

The roughly $1.8 billion in funding would go to the following agencies and departments:

  • HHS: $1.48 billion. This money would be split between the CDC, CMS, vaccine research and diagnostic development and procurement and other HHS areas. It would help enhance mosquito control programs, improve laboratory capacity to test for Zika and improve research into the link between Zika virus infections and birth defects. Additionally, it would support Puerto Rico's community health centers in preventing, screening and treating Zika virus.
  • U.S. Agency for International Development: $335 million. This money would focus on South America, Central America and the Caribbean and support healthcare worker training, improve access to mosquito repellent and stimulate private sector research and development of vaccines, among other uses.
  • U.S. Department of State: $41 million. The funds here would help U.S. citizens in affected countries and provide support for State Department employees who live in affected countries, as well as support the World Health Organization minimize the risk of spreading Zika virus.

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