Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on President Obama’s request for funding to respond to the spreading Zika virus:
“The President’s request for funding to address the Zika virus shows that the Administration is taking this problem seriously, and Congress should act quickly to provide these resources. This funding will help meet specific needs for containing this disease and helping those it has affected, such as vaccine development, health worker training, care for pregnant women, better detection methods, and management of mosquito populations in the United States and throughout the Americas.
“I am concerned that the Administration’s request doesn’t address access to family planning information and supplies, which must be central to the response. Nearly 20 million Latin American women of reproductive age lack access to contraception. Unfortunately, access is often most limited among low-income women and those living in rural areas—populations facing the greatest risk of Zika infections.
“The path forward must include a comprehensive campaign to educate populations about the risks of Zika and the possibility of sexual transmission, paired with enhanced and sustained access to contraception. Women need the right tools to make informed decisions about whether and when to have children. So in addition to the plan the Administration has outlined, we should be supporting the United Nations Population Fund, which is uniquely suited to meet these challenges.
“As Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to monitor this situation and push Congress to provide whatever resources are needed.”