The members of IDSA and HIVMA are deeply concerned that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will face worsening public health crises in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. We appreciate that the Trump administration has requested $29 billion in disaster relief funds and request Congress act swiftly, at a minimum, to and approve this level of much-needed support. Additional resources will likely be needed, and we are pleased that federal agencies are assessing additional needs. IDSA and HIVMA strongly support an immediate infusion of emergency funding to acquire essential medicines and fundamental healthcare supplies. Also, we urge support for rebuilding critical health infrastructures in the affected areas.
Infectious disease risks in the wake of these hurricanes include exposures to waterborne pathogens, the spread of infections in crowded shelters, food-borne illnesses, mosquito-borne infections and mold-related illnesses. Reliable access to medicines for patients with HIV and tuberculosis is also critical to preventing treatment disruptions that increase patients’ risks of serious illness, disease progression, and to avoid the emergence of drug-resistance or transmission of these infections. Health workers in the affected areas struggle with shortages of antibiotics and hydration solutions, and they are bracing for potential infectious disease outbreaks. Ensuring that basic needs are met including access to clean water, safe food and sanitation as essential for infection control.
IDSA and HIVMA members on the frontlines of the hurricane response know that the cost of inaction will far exceed the investments that we should be making now. We advocate for urgent attention to the ongoing medical needs and the prevention efforts required to minimize the health effects of the hurricanes affecting US citizens in these profoundly affected devastated areas.