Congressman Tim Ryan Works to Increase Funding for Zika Defenses

Jul 12, 2016 Issues: Health and Wellness

Washington DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) offered an amendment today to State and Foreign Operations Appropriations that would remove harmful funding cuts for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Ryan Amendment would strike the current funding cap of $461 million on bilateral family planning, and instead insert a funding floor of $585 million (matching the President’s request) for UNFPA’s programs that provide contraceptive services in the 46 countries that administer these necessary programs and in Zika- affected countries. This will help reduce maternal mortality, promote women’s human rights, and contribute to the stability of communities across the globe.

The Ryan Amendment failed by a vote of 20 – 29.

UNFPA is the world’s largest provider of contraceptives, accounting for 42 percent of all contraception procured by donors on behalf of developing countries.

“We are currently facing a global health epidemic in the Zika virus, and if we don’t begin to take it seriously, it will not only be South and Central America who are forced to deal with this horrible tragedy,” said Congressman Ryan. “The World Health Organization has already issued suggestions for people living in Zika areas to delay pregnancy due to the risk of severe birth defects among women who contract the virus while pregnant. This is why I offered my amendment to do the right thing and increase funding for this important program that gives family planning resources to these people who need them the most. But I am deeply disappointed that House Republicans rejected this amendment and have decided to turn their back on thousands of men and women struggling though this crisis.”

“All women should have access to essential reproductive healthcare, including family planning, yet for so many women around the world this need goes unfulfilled. Our elected leaders must put women and families at the center of our global health response - yet the House appropriations bill dramatically cuts programs that would do just that.  In the face of these cuts, we applaud Representative Tim Ryan for his amendment to restore funding for international family planning programs.  We need leaders like Rep. Ryan to continue the fight for health equity and equal access to lifesaving resources like family planning, especially as the Zika virus makes this need impossible to ignore," said Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“Family planning is one of the most effective interventions in the history of public health. It is clear that U.S. foreign assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs is a critical and worthwhile investment in efforts to drive down both maternal and child mortality,” said Suzanne Ehlers, President and CEO PAI. “We applaud Rep. Ryan for fighting for increased funding for these vital programs which are linked to transformational benefits in health and development.”

The UNFPA is currently facing a $140 million shortfall in its budget this year, due to cuts from many of their largest donor countries – and a $45 million funding shortfall for UNFPA contraceptive supplies in 2016. This looming budget shortfall is especially troubling in the face of the continuing threat from Zika.

The $2.5 million increase provided for contraceptive commodities would be used specifically for activities in Zika affected countries. The amendment would not fund abortions.