A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Advocacy is Essential to Turn the Tide

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:  
      
News this week from researchers in Brazil on hearing loss in infants born to mothers who have been infected with the Zika virus underscores the reality that we are far from seeing light at the end of this public health crisis tunnel. CDC Director Tom Frieden and NIAID Director Tony Fauci wrote on the perils of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in funding the nation’s response to Zika in yesterday’s Washington Post. We are fortunate to be welcoming both of these leaders to our National Health Research Forum next week, so will have an in-the-moment update. Some 76% of Americans now say Congress should make passing the emergency Zika response an important priority when they return to Washington in a few days’ time. Research!America has joined a letter with other advocates urging action. You can echo the sentiment by sending a message to your representatives. 
 
Zika isn’t the only public health crisis frightening Americans. Opioid-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999. The Surgeon General has sent a letter to every physician, engaging them in a concerted effort to help “turn the tide” on the opioid epidemic. Candidates all over the country are hearing heart-wrenching stories from constituents about the opioid crisis. Our ace blogger, Janice Lloyd, is covering what the presidential candidates have to say on this topic, along with their positions on other serious conditions including combating mental illness, on our Campaign for Cures blog. She also recently posted Q&A sessions with Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and Dr. Jay Gershen, President of Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Research!America Board Member. And check out the interactive map to read quotes about health research and innovation from more than 450 candidates, and counting.
 
In order for federal health agencies to step up their work on major health threats on a timely basis, we must prevent a long term “continuing resolution” (CR) that flat-funds the federal government for six months or longer. (As it is now apparent that the Congress will, yet again, not pass appropriations bills on time, a CR is the alternative to shutting down the government on October 1st, when the new federal fiscal year begins.) Those who oppose increased government funding for almost every purpose are advocating a long-term CR, even for a full fiscal year. It’s important to counter their case with our own.  Let’s ensure there is a stack of letters voicing opposition to a long-term CR on policy makers’ desks when they return from recess next week. Here is the letter I have sent to congressional leadership. Use it as a template, or let us help you draft your own letter. Email our VP of Policy and Advocacy, Ellie Dehoney (edehoney@researchamerica.org). 
 
I hope you will join me in participating in a nationwide #CuresRally on social media today and tomorrow. September is a critical time for getting final Cures legislation across the finish line. This virtual rally is organized by Sick Chicks, a network empowering and uniting disabled and chronically ill women, with support from Research!America member EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases. 
 
Our 2016 National Health Research Forum next Thursday, September 8 has reached full capacity. Join the waitlist by emailing forum@researchamerica.org.
 
If you haven’t registered for our members-only webinar on the microbiome, featuring Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi of the American Society for Microbiology on Friday, September 16, it isn’t too late to sign up!  
          
Sincerely,
 
Mary Woolley

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco