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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON, DC— Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement in support of the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act (H.R.1797) at the full Committee markup:

“Again, Mr. Chairman.  I want to also thank, as you just did, thank Mr. Chris Smith for offering the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act.

“When we use this term ‘neglected tropical diseases,’ we’re talking about infectious diseases that thrive in tropical and subtropical areas.  They are spread not just by humans, but through animals and also through infected soil or water.  These diseases take a particularly high toll on poor populations in developing countries.

“Diseases like these stifle growth and progress, even when we know how to treat them.  That’s why a decade ago, President Bush launched the Neglected Tropical Diseases Program at USAID.  The Obama Administration carried this work forward, and by 2014, this effort has led to a billion treatments worldwide.  So again, talk about bipartisan cooperation.

“Now, we need to stay focused on this work.  Mr. Smith’s bill would make sure our existing efforts to deal with these diseases are working to get treatments where they’re needed most and as quickly as possible.  It also supports continued research and development at USAID, so that we can stay on the cutting edge of diagnostic methods and treatment options.

“Let me also note that the challenges posed by neglected tropical diseases intersect with our other global health priorities—priorities such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria relief.  It’s important not to focus our energies on one challenge at the expense of another, but instead recognize opportunities for collaboration across health and development programs.  Only when programs work efficiently and in concert can they bring timely and complete relief to patients.

“So I believe we should all support this bill, and build on our record of success in this area.  Thank you Mr. Chairman.  I yield back.”