Global health security matters to everyone

A child receives a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a school in Lahore, Pakistan, September 19, 2022. (© K.M. Chaudary/AP Images)

Diseases don’t respect borders. COVID-19 spread worldwide, killing more than 6.6 million people and inflicting costs on the global economy that could reach $12.5 trillion by 2024.

The United States is committed to strengthening global health security to detect and treat existing diseases, prevent the next pandemic and save lives everywhere. It works with partners to train health care workers, improve access to testing and treatment, and increase vaccine manufacturing around the world.

“Infectious diseases that cross borders, cause death, and disrupt societies and economies are a threat to national and global security,” President Biden said in June, announcing U.S. support for a new pandemic preparedness fund at the World Bank. “To protect lives at home and all over the world, we must increase investments in pandemic preparedness.”

The United States recently committed to provide an additional $1.25 billion to strengthen health systems abroad. The new funding nearly doubles its financial commitment from a year ago and builds on the more than $140 billion in global health assistance provided over the past two decades.

When it comes to fighting disease, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said “inequity fosters vulnerability.” The United States promotes an equitable approach to global health in the following ways:

  • Supports the Pandemic Fund at the World Bank to assist low- and middle-income countries in combating disease with an initial U.S. pledge of $450 million.
  • Works with the private sector to promote regional vaccine manufacturing in African nations and the Indo-Pacific.
  • Plans to launch a pilot global medical supply clearinghouse in 2023 to improve countries’ access to medical equipment and inputs, increase transparency and bolster global supply chains.

Numerous U.S. efforts target specific diseases while also strengthening global heath. Those programs and partnerships include:

  • The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): The largest commitment in history by any country to combat a single disease has saved 25 million lives and trained 340,000 health care workers.
  • The U.S. government, partner nations and the private sector recently pledged a record $14.25 billion to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years.
  • The United States has donated over 671 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to other countries in partnership with COVAX and contributed $4 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in support of the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccination initiative.
  • The COVID-19 Global Action Plan, launched in February, supports increases in COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide, shines a light on harmful mis- and disinformation, improves access to testing and treatment, and strengthens the global health architecture. More than 30 countries and international organizations have participated.

“When it comes to preparing for the next pandemic, the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action,” Biden said. “Investing in preparedness now is the right thing and the smart thing to do.”