Department of Health and Human Services – Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced nearly $39 million in funding to 23 health centers in Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands and $1 million to two Primary Care Associations (PCAs) to help combat the Zika virus.
The health center awardees will use this funding over a three-year period to expand the availability of high quality preventive and primary health care services to meet immediate and anticipated Zika-related health care needs, and to enable health centers to expand services in response to urgent and emergent primary health care needs. The PCA awardees will use this funding to provide training and technical assistance to health centers in developing and implementing activities to address Zika-related prevention and primary health care needs.
“Health centers in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories are on the front lines of fighting Zika. These awards will help provide training and technical assistance to health centers in developing and implementing activities to address immediate and anticipated Zika-related prevention and primary health care needs,” said Secretary Burwell. “During 2016, HHS has obligated $561 million in funding through work done at CDC, NIH, FDA, CMS and ASPR to combat Zika. HHS will continue to do everything it can to protect the American people and is moving quickly to implement the funding that was provided by Congress at the end of September.”
As of November 30, 2016, more than 37,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from the U.S. states (4,496 cases) and territories (33,133 cases). Zika remains a serious health concern as Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to fetal death and other adverse birth outcomes; including microcephaly and other potentially severe fetal brain defects. In addition, the CDC notes that several countries that have experienced Zika outbreaks recently have reported an increase in the number of people who have Guillain-Barré syndrome, a sickness that causes damage to a person’s nerve cells.
“With these awards, HRSA will further enhance preparedness and response, including the provision of primary health care services, and make critical investments in public health capacity,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Acting Administrator Jim Macrae.
Nearly 1,400 health centers operating over 9,800 sites provide care to more than 24 million people across the nation, in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. Today, health centers employ nearly 190,000 people.