August 2, 2019


ImageTo start off this week’s From the Front... I would like to thank all of the Arkansans who stopped by my Washington office during their visits to our nation’s capital, including William Turnage of Fort Smith, Kyle and Renee Parker of Fort Smith, the O’Leary family of Fayetteville, the Johnson family of Fayetteville, and Tara and Nicholas Aston of Bentonville. Safe travels back to the Natural State!

This week, I had the privilege of bringing Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for ImageDisease Control and Prevention (CDC), to the Third District. The CDC’s mission is to protect America from health, safety, and security threats, both in the U.S and abroad. That means tracking disease challenges, developing public health initiatives, detecting and responding to health threats, supporting medical innovation, and educating the public. The department’s purview covers a range of things, including everything from the opioid epidemic and HIV challenges to Ebola and vaccines. Given the importance of the CDC’s work, I invited Dr. Redfield to Arkansas to tour local health facilities, meet with residents, and discuss how the CDC’s efforts impact our district.

ImageWe started off at KURM radio, where Dr. Redfield and I had the opportunity to speak about the work of the CDC, how its efforts are impacted by Congress, and national public health challenges. He talked about vaccines and the importance of immunizations to eradicating and preventing the spread of certain diseases. He pointed out how the elimination of smallpox stemmed from the use of vaccines and also voiced his hope to eliminate polio from the world in the coming years. Other issues he discussed were the opioid epidemic and the challenges of addiction, President Trump’s work to end HIV, global problems like Ebola, and the growing trend of vaping.

ImageWe then stopped by the Rogers Rotary Club to talk about AR-3 public health priorities, as well as strategies to meet challenges and enhance health and safety on the local, state, and federal levels. CDC Director Redfield talked about how Rotary clubs across the nation have actually helped the CDC with certain initiatives. For example, Rotary members have been a key part of efforts to eradicate polio. Rotarians have collaborated with the CDC and other stakeholders to raise awareness, fundraise, volunteer at events, and encourage governments to participate in polio eradication work. We also discussed challenges related to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, obesity, food allergies, cancers, diabetes, heart disease, oral health, and arthritis. Importantly, Dr. Redfield got to meet many amazing people from the Third District and learn more about our region!

ImageWe are lucky to be home to amazing medical and health professionals who dedicate their lives to helping Arkansans. From researchers and doctors, to nurses and educators, professionals in the Third District are committed to saving lives and improving health. I brought the Director to the Benton County Health Unit to learn more about the work being done there and health challenges in the region. We had informative discussions with the Arkansas Department of Health, local medical and health directors, and doctors from health clinics to talk about AIDS and HIV care, delivery of general medicine, and health programs for our local Marshallese communities.

ImageThroughout the trip, Dr. Redfield focused on President Trump’s work to end HIV. The initiative, entitled - Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America - is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate new HIV infections in our nation. The four-point strategy of the plan is to diagnose all people with HIV as early as possible, treat the infection rapidly, prevent new transmissions, and respond quickly to HIV outbreaks. Arkansas is one of the states that will be infused with additional resources to address rural HIV challenges.

ImageOur last stop was to Arkansas Children’s Northwest for a tour of the hospital. Our children are the future of Arkansas and America, and this facility provides outstanding care to our youngest residents. On the way in, we ran into some familiar faces: the Bland family and Jack Walker of JDRF, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes. They were recently in D.C. to talk about the realities of living with type 1 diabetes, and we spoke more about the importance of diabetes research and development. Dr. Redfield and I finished up the visit with a roundtable discussion with doctors and health professionals. The biggest topic of note was the importance of vaccines and the need to combat misinformation related to medicine. Vaccines are critical to stopping certain disease outbreaks and protecting the health of communities.

ImageI am grateful that Dr. Redfield took time out of his busy schedule to visit Arkansas’s Third District. I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that the CDC is prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats. A strong health system is critical to protecting Arkansans and all Americans!

I hope to see you around at one of my upcoming town halls, Coffee with the Congressman meetings, or events around AR-3 in the coming weeks! Be sure to check out my calendar to learn more about my schedule. Next week, I will be hosting a town hall in Fort Smith (August 6) and a Coffee with the Congressman event (August 8) in Centerton. Remember to keep an eye on my website or check out my Twitter and Instagram pages to stay up-to-date with the latest news from the Third District and Washington. Wishing you a great weekend!

From the front...

Congressman Steve Womack
Arkansas Third District


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