(WZZM) - Several thousand people rallied in Washington D.C. this week urging lawmakers to stop funding cuts to medical research
The American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Networkwas among the200 organizations, celebrities and policy makers that came together for this rally. Whether it's for cancer, alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or heart disease research advocates say funding cuts threaten millions of lives.
"Cuts are going to set us back tremendously. We know we have 14 million cancer survivors alive today thanks to breakthroughs in treatment and research and early detection," said Jennifer Hunt, Advocacy Leader for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "We have come so far we cant afford to leave all these cures and research that are being developed on the shelf."
Monday's rally is in response to the 5% budget cut for the National Institutes of Health, resulting from sequestration and across the board spending cuts.
The NIH is the world's largest source of research funding and has been a part of every single major cancer breakthrough as well advances other areas of research and treatment.
The cuts equal a loss of roughly two billion dollars annually for medical research. Hunt, says that is about a $250 million hit to cancer research funding.
"Cancer is expected to kill 570 thousand americans this year alone. What we are asking is for congress to make cancer research funding a priority to help save lives," said Hunt. "When they are trying to balance out everything they are faced with they need to understand that there is a real human toll. There is a human face to these issues. Also there is definitely an economic impact as well
NIH Funding directly supports hundreds of thousands of jobs nationally. Hunt says michigan, alone, is expected to lose 564 medical research jobs because of sequestration
The American Cancer Society,celebrating its 100th year in May, is the largest private funder of cancer research in the United States. Hunt says they are looking forward to finishing the fight against cancer.
"What we would encourage people to do is to visit our website, www.acscan.org, and contact your lawmaker. Send a message to your lawmaker and let them know funding for research is important and should be a priority," she said.
In a statement released Monday, President Obama supported the rally, saying "To meet the challenges of the 21st century we must commit to a serious sustained effort to advance medical research."
The is expected to release his budget proposals for fiscal year 2014 Wednesday.