Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013 – The following is a statement from Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
"The American Public Health Association expressed grave concern over drastic across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration that takes effect today. This law raises the risks to our health by undermining many of the public health protections we have in place today. A projected 5 percent reduction in resources to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration and many other public health agencies is in essence a cut to state and local communities that will compromise our nation’s health, security and economic growth.
"Sequester means 424,000 fewer HIV tests conducted by CDC's health department grantees, 7,400 fewer patients having access to HRSA's AIDS Drug Assistance Program that provides life-saving HIV medications and about 25,000 fewer breast and cervical cancer screenings for poor, high-risk women. These cuts would also reduce food inspections, decrease public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities, reduce funding for states to monitor air quality, reduce mental health services for those in need, put the public at greater risk of infectious disease outbreaks and negatively impact many other critical public health programs.
"These are essential public health services that save lives and protect our health. They are not the driver of our nation’s debt and have already been ravaged by deep cuts during the recent recession. To decimate programs that hold the greatest potential for growth and health security is a matter of failed policy. Public health is part of the economic solution since they help reduce the need for more expensive health and social services.
"We need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not compromise core public health services and inappropriately leaves people exposed to preventable health threats."
For more about APHA, visit www.apha.org.