Congressman Brian Higgins recognized Feb. 4 as World Cancer Day by announcing the introduction of legislation aimed at the fight to rid the world of cancer and other debilitating diseases.
Higgins recently introduced H.R. 531, the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act, bipartisan legislation that would add more than $57 billion in new funding over the next six years to the National Institutes of Health in addition to the $29.9 billion in annual NIH baseline funding.
World Cancer Day brings together individuals, health care providers, organizations and government agencies in an effort to raise awareness and find solutions in the fight against cancer. It is estimated 14 million people around the globe will learn they have cancer each year.
While other nations are recognizing the ethical and economical value of investing in medical research, the U.S. investment has decreased, resulting in delayed treatments and fewer clinical trials.
Higgins, a member of the congressional cancer caucus, pressed for the need to increase America's investment in the NIH during remarks on the House Floor:
"Mr. speaker, today is World Cancer Day, a day to recognize the patients, survivors, caregivers and those who raise awareness on their behalf. Cancer has touched every family and community in some way, and it is their stories that sustain the fight for increased funding for medical research.
"According to the World Health Organization, cancer caused over 8.2 million deaths worldwide. By the end of 2015, more than one and a half million new cases will be diagnosed within the United States.
"Investing in medical research leads to advanced treatments and cures and has the potential to lower these devastating outcomes. It boosts the economy through job creation and new discoveries, and it allows America to maintain its position as a global leader in the fight for a cure. Yet, in the last decade, funding to the National Institutes of Health has been cut by nearly 25 percent. This is unacceptable.
"Last week I re-introduced the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act with Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Peter King, a bill that invests in the fight against horrible disease.
"So today, we recognize World Cancer Day. The goal must be to celebrate the day we have a world without cancer."
Higgins noted great strides have been made in cancer research, including breakthroughs in treatments and science at NIH and its comprehensive cancer centers, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, but much more is possible through greater investment. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual report on progress against cancer (released last month), cancer death rates in the U.S. have declined 20 percent from their peak in 1991 (215.1 per 100,000 population) to 2010 (171.8 per 100,000 population). Today, there are a record 14.5 million survivors in the U.S.
In testimony before the Senate appropriations committee, ASCO President Dr. Clifford Hudis noted, "it is estimated that every dollar of NIH grant funding creates $2.21 of spending on jobs and businesses in our communities."