VBDN Active Issues and Activities - 2020
CDC Funding for FY 2021:
One of the stated purposes of the VBDN coalition is to advocate for funding for the fight against vector-borne diseases and to ensure that it is a legislative and funding priority for Congress.
- The VBDN submit a letter in the spring to the House and Senate leadership requesting robust support for CDC in fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations overall as well as fully finding the levels authorized in the Kay Hagan Tick Act and Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 for the CDC Centers of Excellence on Vector-Borne Diseases and the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Grants. (March 6, 2020)
- The VBDN sent a follow-up letter to the House and Senate leadership following the start of a Continuing Resolution for FY 2021, again requesting full funding for the Kay Hagan Tick Act and strong support for the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act (November 17, 2020).
VBDN Transition Document for Next Administration, Congress:
The VBDN drafted a document highlighting some of the coalition's top policy priorities and recommendations. Documents like this are known as "transition documents," as they are created with the intent of sharing them with officials who may serve in important roles in the incoming Biden Administration as well as the 117th Congress. This paper contains recommendations to address existing and emerging challenges posed by vectors of disease.
CDC Vector Week 2020:
ESA, on behalf of the Society as well as the VBDN, was invited to participate in the inaugural CDC Vector Week which was hosted in Fort Collins, CO. ESA presented a poster on the VBDN, hoping to cultivate more interest among those members of the community who are not yet part of the coalition.
Support for Preventing Vector-Borne Diseases in Puerto Rico:
Following a series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico that started in late December and continued well into 2020, heavily damaged infrastructure led to thousands of Puerto Ricans sleeping outside where they are less vulnerable to collapsing walls and roofs should another 6.5 magnitude quake hit like the one on January 7. At the same time, the Caribbean has been experiencing a record number of cases of dengue, and there is ongoing concern about an emerging outbreak in Puerto Rico, which would be significantly more difficult to control with so many individuals sleeping in open-air shelters.
Grayson Brown, Ph.D., a past president of ESA and now executive director of the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU), reached out to ESA, asking for assistance in mobilizing the Vector-Borne Disease Network (VBDN) to see who could help get mosquito nets quickly to Puerto Rico to help protect those sleeping outside and in their cars. VBDN members responded quickly, reaching out to their networks to connect nonprofits, foundations, and industry to Brown's group, supplying more than 20,000 nets as well as 5,000 cans of repellent. ESA also shared the request via Entomology Today, which was picked up by local media.
Driven partly by the current Covid-19 pandemic, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) are looking to introduce an update to the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation they authored that was initially passed in 2016. A concept paper for Cures 2.0 was introduced this spring, but vector-borne disease (VBD) was not a part of that initial proposal. Consequently, the VBDN sent a letter to the two members of Congress to explain the importance of not overlooking VBD and try to ensure it is not left out of any new iterations of that legislation. Meetings with the staff of both offices are being scheduled as well.