Hirono Announces $1.1 Million to Fight Zika

By:  Big Island Now

Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the Hawai?i Department of Health will receive $1.1 million in Centers for Disease Control funding to fight the Zika virus.

According to Hirono, the funding will bolster Hawai?i’s lab testing capacity as well as a variety of education, and vector control measures.

“Hawai?i needs to be vigilant against the continued threat posed by Zika, and this funding increases the Hawai?i Department of Health’s capacity to prevent and respond to a potential Zika outbreak,” said Senator Hirono.

“We are grateful for the continued support provided to Hawai?i by Congress and CDC to improve the Hawai?i Department of Health’s capacity to protect our local communities by expanding Zika-related preparedness and response activities,” said Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director of Environmental Health.

“With the high volume of travel and warm weather we experience in Hawai?i year-round, growing our Vector Control detection and response capabilities is crucial to preventing potential mosquito-borne disease outbreaks statewide,” Kawaoka added.

“These funds will allow us to support and enhance key Zika-related department programs to safeguard our state’s public health in the long run. In addition to building a greater capacity for disease investigation and laboratory testing, we’ll also be better able to support the mothers and babies who have been impacted by the effects of Zika,” said Dr. Sarah Park, Hawai‘i State Epidemiologist.

The grants were funded through emergency supplemental funding that Senator Hirono supported, and Congress approved, in September.

Earlier this year, Senator Hirono met with Governor David Ige, Hawai‘i Director of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler, and top Hawai‘i public health experts to raise awareness of the threat Zika poses to Hawai‘i families.

Hawaii will receive federal CDC funding from three programs:

  • Zika Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Activities ($919,149) – This program supports vector control programs, strengthens laboratory capacity, and bolsters participation in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry to monitor pregnant women with Zika and their infants.

  • Public Health Preparedness and Response Activities ($58,603) – This funding is awarded to communities at high risk for Zika outbreaks, and can be used to rapidly respond to a Zika outbreak, and to strengthen coordination between government and non-government first responders.

  • Zika Birth Defects Surveillance Activities ($200,000) – This program establishes systems to rapidly detect microcephaly–a serious birth defect directly linked to Zika– and other adverse outcomes potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy.