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NTI Joins Global Health Security Leaders to Advocate for Robust Funding in Administration’s FY20 Budget Request to Counter Biological Threats

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The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) today joined more than
60 leading global health security organizations and experts to advocate for
robust funding of programs that counter biological threats in the Trump
Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request to Congress. The request,
in a
letter to Alex Azar
, Secretary of Health and Human Services and
Chair of the newly established U.S. Biodefense
Steering Committee
, comes amid the continued spread of Ebola virus
disease in an insecure region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This and
other outbreaks serve as a reminder that infectious disease threats, whether
naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate, pose a threat to U.S. and
international health and security, as diseases do not respect borders or avoid
areas of conflict.

Beth Cameron, NTI’s Vice President for Global Biological
Policy and Programs, serves as a co-chair of the Global Health Council’s (GHC)
roundtable on global health security, which spearheaded the letter.  Consistent with NTI’s mission to counter
global catastrophic biological risks and advance international biosecurity, NTI
joins GHC and other groups in advocating for needed resources to fill global
preparedness gaps. The letter sent to Secretary Azar advocates for a FY 2020
funding request that reflects the strong U.S. commitment to advance the Global
Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a partnership of more than 64 countries and
organizations, which was launched in 2014 and recently extended through 2024.  As a result of the GHSA, more than 70
countries have now been evaluated for pandemic preparedness but only 14% of assessed
countries are prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks.

NTI and its partners are recommending the FY 2020 request
bolster U.S. leadership and programs focused on building the capacities
required to stop outbreaks at the source. These include global health security
efforts implemented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as biosecurity and
biosurveillance programs implemented by the U.S. Department of Defense and
State including Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs, which focus on
preventing and detecting deliberate attacks and accidental biological releases.  Taken together, these programs serve as the foundation
on which other countries can build—using new resources to enhance and sustain
capability.

The letter also advocates that the FY 2020 budget request
reflect the importance the Administration has placed on global health security as
a national security imperative within the National
Biodefense Strategy
.  It is
time for the resources to match the rhetoric—global health security programs across
departments and agencies should seek full funding in their FY 2020 budget
requests to accomplish the global mission of keeping us safe and secure from
infectious disease threats.  

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