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CONTACT: May 23, 2017 Tamara Moore, 202-868-4008 tmoore@thereisgroup.com

Infectious Diseases Experts Concerned with Proposed FY 2018 Budget

Budget Proposal Threatens to Systematically Deteriorate Public Health and Safety

May 23, 2017 (Arlington, VA) — The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is disappointed in the budget released today by the Trump Administration, which threatens funding for programs and activities that are essential to the nation’s public health and safety. Alarming cuts, such as a 17 percent cut to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including a $64.9 million reduction in funding for the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, would render vital programs unsustainable, including the Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, the National Healthcare Safety Network, and the Advanced Molecular Detection Initiative.

The threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is well-documented. Without immediate and unfailing intervention to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics and prevent the spread of resistant bacteria, minor infections may become life-threatening and jeopardize our ability to perform routine medical procedures safely. Time is of the essence. In addition to CDC, many federal agencies, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have critical roles in addressing the global crisis of antibiotic resistance and with this budget proposal, all face detrimental reductions in funding. There is tremendous risk in losing momentum by reducing investments to these agencies’ groundbreaking work.

"Without appropriate funding, it will be impossible for federal programs and agencies to meaningfully sustain critical successes achieved in preventing healthcare-associated infections," said Sara Cosgrove, MD, MD, FSHEA, president of the SHEA Board of Trustees. "It erodes the public health infrastructure and workforce, limiting our ability to monitor trends in healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance, and prevents us from being able to respond to infectious disease outbreaks to keep our country safe."

Other concerning aspects of the proposal include folding AHRQ into NIH and cutting AHRQ's budget by 16 percent; cutting the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) by 23 percent; and closing the John E. Fogarty International Center. As a result of these dramatic cuts, additional initiatives important to disease prevention will be at risk, including the:

  • Emerging Infections Program at the CDC, responsible for active surveillance for emerging infectious diseases;
  • Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network at the CDC, which provides infrastructure and lab capacity to detect and support response to resistant organisms recovered from patients;
  • Antibiotic Stewardship activities at AHRQ, CDC and NIH that research and develop strategies for improving the use and prolonging the effectiveness of antibiotics;
  • Patient Safety Measuring Tools and Resources developed through AHRQ;
  • Clinician Toolkits and Resources to Prevent Healthcare-Association Infections at AHRQ;
  • Data and Statistics on the Prevalence of Healthcare-Associated Infections monitored through CDC to measure and track prevalence of healthcare-associated infections, including antibiotic resistant bacteria; and
  • Prevention Epicenters Program at CDC, which develops, implements, and evaluates the effectiveness strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections and stops the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

"In the face of increasing prevalence of multidrug resistant organisms, we need acceleration in research toward finding solutions to preventable, life-threatening infections," said Cosgrove. "This budget proposal will slow scientific discovery in health services research that prevents disease, improves health outcomes, and curbs medical costs."

Congress should prioritize funding for all of the activities and programs that invest in improving our nation's public health infrastructure, which supports reducing the prevalence of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance. A bipartisan budget deal that maintains parity between defense and non-defense discretionary programs must be achieved for 2018.

SHEA is eager to work with the Trump Administration and Congress to help produce a bipartisan budget agreement to stop sequestration and raise funding for these and other non-defense discretionary programs that are critical to the health of our nation. SHEA urges Congress to make its independent judgments in crafting the FY 2018 budget and reject the cuts proposed in the president’s budget request.

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The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at www.shea-online.org, www.facebook.com/SHEApreventingHAIs and @SHEA_Epi.