Rep. Johnson reintroduces bipartisan Neglected Infections of Poverty bill

Feb 9, 2011

‘I won’t stop until this bill becomes law’

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) today announced he re-introduced his bipartisan bill to address a growing problem of parasitic diseases – mostly in poor, minority populations along the U.S.-Mexico border, the rural South, Appalachia and distressed urban areas.

The bill passed the House of Representatives in 2010, but stalled in the Senate.

The “Neglected Infections of Impoverished Americans Act of 2011” – H.R. 528 – would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress annually on the impact of these diseases, address their threat and make funding recommendations on how to eradicate them.

Some of the parasitic infections are spread by insects – such as Chagas disease or dengue fever. Others, such as toxocara and toxoplasmosis, are attained through contaminated animal feces, and still others thrive in soil, such as thread worms.

All of these neglected infections affect hundreds of thousands of mostly poor, minority residents with no health insurance. Infected people suffer from heart disease, lung ailments, birth defects, seizures, difficult pregnancies and child developmental problems as a result of these diseases.

“It’s my mission to give voice to people who have none,” said Johnson. “I won’t stop until this bill, which deals with a largely hidden burden of diseases that burden poor – mostly minority – populations, becomes law.”

The bill now goes to the Energy and Commerce Committee for mark up before going to the full House for a vote.

View an ABC News story about this issue and legislation from May 2010 here.