2012 Advocacy Day

The 2012 DHA Advocacy Day took place June 19–20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Digestive Health Alliance advocates from across the country gathered in the nation’s capital for the annual, twoday event to educate Members of Congress about the needs of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders (FGIMDs) community.

A networking dinner on Tuesday evening featured an update on federal research at the National Institutes of Health by Stephen James, M.D., Director, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, NIDDK, and a review of the 2012 DHA legislative agenda.

Visiting Congressional Offices

On Wednesday, advocates visited nearly 40 offices meeting with House and Senate staff and Members of Congress to urge support for a legislative agenda focused on bolstering research into functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders and improving patient care. The digestive health advocates represented many different disorders. They shared their personal stories in urging Members of Congress to take action on 3 specific and critical issues:

  • House Member co-sponsorship of The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 2239) and the introduction of a companion bill in the Senate
  • Support of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to a level of at least $32 billion in Fiscal Year 2013
  • Support for veterans in the FY13 Defense Appropriations bill through the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Gulf War Illness Research Program, which provides a source of funding for functional GI disorders research DHA Advocates on Capitol Hill

Holding a Briefing

The day concluded with a briefing we sponsored for congressional staff members where many more offices also learned about functional GI and motility disorders. The briefing featured testimony from a practicing physician and two people who live with digestive conditions.

Elisabeth Vink from IFFGD/DHA and Albena Halpert, M.D., Asst. Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine described the widespread and complex nature of these disorders, their social and economic costs, the lack of satisfactory treatments, and the need for expanded research. Reneé Pickle, who suffers from IBS and GERD; and Hollie Moots, who suffers from gastroparesis, described in compelling everyday terms the challenges and burdens of living with chronic FGIMDs.

During the discussion that followed, several other advocates, as well as some Congressional staff members, shared personal experiences of living with a FGIMD and supporting the need for improved care.

You Can Help

Please add your voice. You can tell your story and ask your House Member to support The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 2239) by going to our web page at www.iffgd.org/2239action. It only takes a minute or two to make a big difference.

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