Now that President Bush has appointed Julie Gerberding to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), groups like the Trust for America’s Health are urging her to make cancer tracking a priority.
A new billthe Nationwide Health Tracking Actintroduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev) would authorize $227.5 million a year for expansion of a pilot CDC chronic disease tracking program. The Clinton/Reid bill, which has a counterpart in the House, grew out of hearings held in Fallon, Nev, and Long Island, NY, that focused on possible environmental links to cancer in those communities.
Congress gave the CDC $17.5 million in fiscal 2002 to help get its environmental health-tracking program off the ground. But at that funding level, the program’s reach is limited. Shelley Hearne, executive director of the Trust, points out that Congress just gave the CDC an extra $1 billion for bioterrorism. "But this funding and the CDC’s guidelines on how to spend it do not help the nation prepare for the number 1 killer of Americans todaychronic diseases like cancer, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease," she states.