Congressman Johnson Reintroduces Bill to Battle Neglected Infections of Poverty

December 8, 2020
Press Release
Expert: As COVID epidemic accelerates, neglected infections will also grow worse.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) today announced he is re-introducing his bill to address the growing problem of parasitic diseases in America — found 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 2020” would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress annually on the impact of prevalent parasitic infections, address their threat and make funding recommendations on how to eradicate them.

These diseases affect hundreds of thousands of mostly poor, minority residents with no health insurance. People suffer from heart disease, lung ailments, birth defects, seizures, difficult pregnancies and child developmental problems as a result of infection.

“There is no reason that a nation with as many resources as the United States of America should tolerate these kinds of health disparities to exist among the poor and otherwise disadvantaged populations,” said Johnson. “These diseases are closely tied with adverse pregnancy outcomes and inhibited child development, and they disproportionally harm Black and minority communities. As the state with the worst maternal mortality rate in the country, addressing these diseases is critical to the safety of women and families in Georgia.”

“It’s time that we study and make a plan to battle these preventable diseases. Americans’ health should not depend on where they live and how much money they make.”

“It’s becoming apparent that parasitic diseases and neglected infections of the poor are now widespread among Americans living in extreme poverty in the U.S.,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “As poverty accelerates because of our COVID epidemic, we might expect that neglected infections will continue to dominate and remain important health disparities, especially in the Southern U.S.”

The bill now goes to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Cosponsors include: Bass, Beatty, Bishop, Carson, Chu, Grijalva, Hayes, E.B. Johnson, Lee, Norton, B. Thompson

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