July 10, 2017
MDH Commissioner Statement on Request for Public Health Response Funds
Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger issued the following statement today regarding the Minnesota Department of Health’s request for funds from the public health response account, created by the 2017 Minnesota Legislature, to help respond to three ongoing disease outbreaks.
Governor Dayton and state legislators together created the public health response account during the 2017 legislative session as a tool for strengthening our ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks and other urgent public health threats. Today I sent letters to key legislators notifying them of our intent to ask the Legislative Advisory Commission for fiscal year 2018 funding from the response account to support our responses to three ongoing disease outbreaks in Minnesota.
We expended significant resources in the just-completed state fiscal year 2017 to provide treatment, outreach and education for outbreaks of measles, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and syphilis, and those needs will continue into fiscal year 2018. The response to these outbreaks totaled nearly $1.5 million prior to July 1, 2017, including $534,000 for measles, $626,000 for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and $336,000 for syphilis. We will not be requesting reimbursement for fiscal year 2017 expenses since they occurred prior to the law’s enactment. However, we are seeking a total of $613,583 for response activities in fiscal year 2018. This includes:
- $100,445 to respond to the largest measles outbreak in the state in 30 years, concentrated in a large unvaccinated population within the Somali-Minnesotan community in Hennepin County.
- $224,635 to address a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis outbreak concentrated in older Hmong adults who attend senior centers in Ramsey County.
- $288,503 to respond to syphilis across the state, with focus on an outbreak concentrated in the American Indian community and centered in Mille Lacs County.
These outbreaks have already cost the state dearly in human and financial terms and will cause more problems if left unchecked. These funds will enhance the effectiveness of our response and help ensure that Minnesotans receive the high level of protection they expect and deserve.