Last week, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) posted a news item regarding the fiscal year 2012 budget allocations for medical research through the U.S. federal government. The entities that IFFGD reports as relevant to functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders include research for Gulf War-related illnesses through the Department of Defense, and general research funding through the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The above-named institutes are all subdivisions of the U.S. government agency known as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to IFFGD, NIH is “the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.” Its grants are available to scientists throughout the United States, as well as other countries. Different entities within NIH also support and host multinational resources such as the clinical trial database Clinical Trials.gov and medical journal databases Medline and PubMed that make a wealth of medical research information available to professionals and the public worldwide.
In most areas mentioned by IFFGD, including the total budget for the NIH as a whole, fiscal 2012 amounts are either new funding or increases over fiscal year 2011. Please note that figures IFFGD quotes are amounts allocated for each institute or program mentioned, not specific amounts for irritable bowel syndrome or functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.
While these increases appear promising, further advocacy is always needed each year to make the specific needs of those of us with IBS or other FGIMDs known. In particular, if it is enacted, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act (HR 2239), introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2011, will direct NIH to budget for and support initiatives specific to our community. For background information on HR 2239, see IBS Impact’s July 6, 2011 post. For the most current status to date on the progress of HR 2239, see this December 18, 2011 post. U.S. citizens, to support IFFGD’s efforts on behalf of Gulf War veterans, who are statistically at very high risk of functional GI and motility disorders, see this post from August 25, 2011.
For IBS Impact members and visitors who are citizens of other nations, while these budget increases and advocacy efforts do not necessarily affect you immediately, because of the global nature of IBS, and the collaboration or exchange of information among scientists on every continent, ultimately there will be a ripple effect, just as U.S citizens with IBS benefit from the work of dedicated scientists elsewhere. May the small steps of gradual progress in the U.S. encourage other nations and self-advocates with IBS around the world to work toward better local and national systems that meet the needs and challenges of their own citizens and residents with IBS. IBS Impact hopes to give voice to as many of those efforts as possible.