Zika is Spreading, and More Funding is Needed to Stop It

To beat back Zika and protect pregnant women and their unborn children, more funding is needed—both from governments and the private sector. That’s the message from two members of the CDC Foundation’s board of directors in an op-ed that ran online at CNBC.com over the weekend.

The op-ed was authored by Gary Cohen, executive vice president and president, global health and development for BD, and Dikembe Mutombo, chairman and president of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation and a member of the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame.

The latest data show that there are now more than 400 women in the United States—including territories—who have evidence of Zika infection. And that number is expected to grow, particularly as mosquito season begins to heat up. But there are challenges in mobilizing a robust response, primarily because needed funding is not available.

MosquitoesAs Cohen and Mutombo write, “While some existing funding from governments is being redirected for the Zika response, a congressional compromise on emergency funding to fight Zika has yet to be reached, and current government support is insufficient to protect America and the world. This challenge makes the need for support from foundations, companies and private philanthropists more critical than ever.”

To be sure, some have already stepped forward to help fill in gaps and advance the response. For instance, individuals and organizations have provided to the CDC Foundation $1.7 million in funding plus substantial commitments of in-kind product donations, including products such as insect repellent, contraception and support for communications campaigns. Still, as the op-ed authors point out, there remains an urgent need for $45 million in flexible funding from philanthropies and the private sector in addition to government funding to help CDC protect people, especially women of reproductive age in high-risk areas.

“The clock is ticking, and we don't have a minute to waste,” wrote Cohen and Mutombo. “It is vital to think beyond our organizations’ existing funding priorities to help CDC respond to and prevent further spread of Zika.”

We appreciate Gary and Dikembe providing their voices to the Zika response effort and encouraging all sectors to work together on the Zika response. We hope others will join their appeal. You can do so in these three ways—make a contribution to the CDC Foundation (Give Now), spread the word by sharing the op-ed and other CDC Foundation news through your social media networks and protecting yourself (Learn More).

Pierce Nelson is the vice president for communications for the CDC Foundation.