Markey joins Merkley and colleagues in continuing their efforts for a strong federal response to the monkeypox public health emergency

“As the country continues to navigate the [monkeypox public health emergency]the United States public health system remains on the front lines of identifying cases of VPD, informing Americans about access to vaccines and treatments, and connecting our constituents to needed medical care and resources.

Washington (August 10, 2022) — Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined a group of his colleagues led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to send a letter to the Majority Leader in the Senate Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging senators to include critical funding to address the public health emergency (PHE) monkeypox (MPV)/orthopoxvirus in any future legislative package of 117e Congress.

“As of August 9, 2022, there have been over 9,492 confirmed cases of MPV/orthopoxvirus in the United States since the first case of the current outbreak was identified on May 18, 2022,” write the Senators. “The current outbreak in the United States is the largest in the world by number of cases in the current global outbreak – which has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization – and the largest of the country’s history.”

In their letter, the senators emphasize that the U.S. public health system remains on the front lines of identifying cases of VPD, informing Americans about access to vaccines and treatments, and connecting voters to medical care and resources. required. Yet this system continues to be strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and underfunded.

“VPD testing efforts currently face processing and collection barriers that have led to under-reporting of cases and poor data to help the federal government direct needed resources appropriately,” they continued. “Furthermore, as prophylaxis and treatment, the rapid acquisition and administration of vaccines is essential to stem the spread of MPV and protect all communities across the United States. Finally, clinics and providers face additional hurdles in clinical service supplies, provider training to correctly identify MPV, vaccines, testing supplies, contact tracing, and community outreach to strengthen our public health response to MPV and ensure that accurate and adequate information is available. reach our constituents.

This letter comes less than a month after Merkley directed 22 colleagues on a separate letter sound the alarm on inequalities in access to the MPV vaccine.

Senators Jack Reed (DR.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (DN.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt. ), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also joined the letter led by Sen. Merkley.

In response to the senators’ letter, David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said, “Sexual health clinics across the country are handling frontline smallpox testing, treatment, and vaccination. ape without resources, personnel or supplies, mitigating the impact of federal efforts to fight the outbreak. The success of the national response depends on whether these clinics get the resources they need to help patients access expanded tests, treatments and vaccines.

The full text of the letter is available here and follows below:

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell:

We are writing to you today to express our concern over the increasing number of monkeypox virus (hereafter referred to as MPV) cases in the United States, and to urge you to include funding to address this public health emergency. (PHE) in any upcoming legislative package in the 117e Congress.

As of August 9, 2022, there have been over 9,492 confirmed cases of MPV/orthopoxvirus in the United States since the first case of the current outbreak was identified on May 18, 2022. The current outbreak in the United States United is the largest in the world. world by number of cases in the current global outbreak – which has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization – and the largest in the country’s history. As such, the outbreak was declared a national PHE by the Department of Health and Human Services on August 4, 2022. Nonetheless, we acknowledge that many experts have stated that the current number of cases is likely an undercount due to lack of provider knowledge. , limited access to information and testing, and social stigma that can increase reluctance to seek care.

As the country continues to navigate the MPV PHE, the United States public health system remains on the front lines identifying cases of MPV, informing Americans about access to vaccines and treatments, and connecting our constituents to care. medical and necessary resources. A recent survey conducted by the National Coalition of STD Directors at more than 100 clinics nationwide, including Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), sexual and reproductive health clinics, and primary care providers, demonstrates that our country’s healthcare professionals have the will and expertise to play a central role in the MPV response, and are already called upon to do so. However, these healthcare providers urgently need additional resources to scale an appropriate response and prevent the spread of the virus.

MPV testing efforts currently face processing and collection barriers that have led to under-reporting of cases and poor data to help the federal government direct needed resources appropriately. Additionally, as prophylaxis and treatment, the rapid acquisition and administration of vaccines is essential to stem the spread of MPV and protect all communities across the United States. Finally, clinics and providers face additional hurdles in clinical service supplies, provider training to correctly identify MPV, vaccines, testing supplies, contact tracing, and community outreach to strengthen our public health response to MPV and ensure that accurate and adequate information is available. reach our constituents.

We appreciate the work that Senators Leahy, Murray and Coons have undertaken to craft and introduce an emergency supplemental funding bill to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging diseases that are a significant threat to public health, and we ask that you include additional funding in any upcoming legislative package to address MPV PHE in our communities.

Thank you for your attention and partnership in addressing this public health issue.

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