Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) re-introduced on Thursday 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 2015” – H.R. 2897 – 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.
Related: CDC targets five Neglected Parasitic Infections in the US
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 unconscionable that a nation as wealthy as ours would tolerate these kinds of health disparities to exist among the poor and otherwise disadvantaged populations,” said Johnson. “It’s time that we come to grips with these preventable diseases. Good health should not depend on where people live and how much money they make.”
LISTEN: Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine discusses Chagas in North America in 2013 interview
The bill now goes to the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Cosponsors: Smith (NJ), Rangel, Clarke (NY), Holmes Norton, Brown (FL), Fattah, Rush.