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CRDF Global Zika Statement & Experts Available -- Multi-Sectoral, International Approach Needed for Zika: We Must Move Beyond Response in Global Health

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CRDF Global Zika Statement & Experts Available -- Multi-Sectoral, International Approach Needed for Zika: We Must Move Beyond Response in Global Health

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Recently the U.S. Congress proposed funding to support response to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak in Central and South America and the Caribbean. As an independent nonprofit organization promoting international science collaboration, CRDF Global supports strengthening the domestic response to this pressing epidemic. However, we recognize that a purely domestic approach to the outbreak after it has happened is inadequate to address a disease known to have increasing or widespread transmission in 38 countries. Response by this country to the 2015 Ebola outbreak was driven in large part by the arrival in the U.S. of patients infected by the disease, which many health experts deemed was too late. The ongoing Zika outbreak serves as another stark reminder of the global impact of infectious diseases.

CRDF Global strongly believes that to head off global health crises like Zika, a multi-pronged international approach to global disease is required. This can only be achieved if governments move their focus and efforts beyond a reactive, disease-specific approach that costs both dollars and lives. In order for the U.S. and other countries to effectively mitigate public health threats, international organizations and governments must support holistic programs of global health preparedness. That is one of the reasons why CRDF Global has been a strong advocate for the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) as a mechanism for multi-sectoral, multi-national global health collaboration. It provides a clear framework to address Zika and other emerging global health threats.

Through the GHSA, the U.S and others can multiply global contributions to help partner countries minimize the spread or impact of epidemics. Through vaccine research, improving and sharing diagnostic tools, and enhancing disease surveillance and public health initiatives, global communities can move beyond response and onto the path of prevention. CRDF Global looks forward to pending action by Congress and other U.S. agencies to support a global Zika response. In the meantime, CRDF Global will continue its activities in support of global health preparedness in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Instead of responding to the next epidemic after it reaches U.S. borders, we hope that the U.S. will be a leader in supporting programs to address emerging public health threats regardless of their point of origin.

EXPERTS AVAILABLE

CRDF Global has the following experts on staff who can discuss the importance of strengthening multi-sectoral, international partnerships to combat infectious diseases:

Andrew Parsons, M.S. in Biotechnology & Biomedical Science
Associate Program Director, Science Engagement

Mr. Parsons brings over 20 years of expertise in biosafety, biotechnology and laboratory science to CRDF Global and serves as the lead for the organization’s Biosecurity Engagement Program. His exceptional science career includes work in public and private research organizations including the Boston Public Health Lab, where he conducted whole genome sequencing of Influenza virus specimens for the Centers for Disease Control. Apart from his research career, Mr. Parsons is a former U.S. Army Officer, having held several positions including Science Officer with the 1st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team. Pairing his academic and military backgrounds, Mr. Parsons is an expert on the intersection of scientific research, emergency preparedness, and biological and chemical nonproliferation.

John Crockett
Senior Program Manager, Science Engagement

Mr. Crockett has over two decades of experience in international development, including living and working in a dozen countries and leading programs for large non-profits and government agencies. Since 2014, he has led CRDF Global’s strategic initiative in global health security, which has included managing responses to Ebola and most recently the Zika virus. Mr. Crockett is an expert in the Global Health Security Agenda and has presented and led events on this topic in the U.S. and internationally. Mr. Crockett works closely with CRDF Global partners and donors to advocate and pursue numerous global security projects with a focus in East Africa and the Middle East.

CONTACT:  Media interested in interviewing one of these experts should contact Becky Sheetz-Runkle at bsheetz(at)beckysheetz.com or 703-501-0533