Congress has not acted fast enough or allocated enough money to combat an outbreak of the Zika virus, according to former White House Ebola czar Ron Klain.
Lawmakers haven't followed the lessons learned by the Ebola epidemic and have let politics stand in the way of the greater public health interest, Klain told Politico. He referred to the country's Zika response as a "slow-motion public health disaster."
This week House Republicans approved a $622 million bill to combat Zika--far less than the White House administration's request for $1.8 billion and the Senate's vote to appropriate $1.1 billion for the initiative. The House vote was split along party lines, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"It's just not enough," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden told The Wall Street Journal of the House measure.
Klain called the funding plan to divert Ebola funding to pay for Zika research "irresponsible" and predicted a "public health catastrophe" that will involve infants born with microcephaly and other severe brain defects. "All of this is preventable," Klain told Politico. "Outbreaks are inevitable. Epidemics are preventable."
Public health officials in the U.S. are bracing for an outbreak of Zika this summer due to the mosquito season. A Wisconsin woman has the first confirmed case of Zika in the state. She had recently traveled to Honduras, a hot spot for mosquitos carrying the Zika virus, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports.