World Health Day: Making the world safer for everyone

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world the power of science to quickly respond to diseases. Here, a boy watches nurses in May 2020 in Manaus, Brazil, where medical teams offered flu shots and COVID-19 testing. (© Andre Coelho/Getty Images)

This year’s observance of World Health Day on April 7 reminds us of the need to protect people and their environment.

The United States answers the call by leading an international effort to strengthen World Health Organization (WHO) regulations that will better prepare the world to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to future disease outbreaks.

Here are other ways the United States works to improve world health.

Fighting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases

Côte d’Ivoire received 504,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021 from the U.S.-backed global COVAX initiative. (© Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

Through COVAX and other partners, the United States has donated more than 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to over 110 countries, part of President Biden’s pledge to share 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world. COVAX is an international partnership dedicated to equitably distributing COVID-19 vaccines, coordinated by the WHO and others.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the United States has provided nearly $20 billion in COVID-19 health, humanitarian, economic and development assistance to over 120 countries.

U.S. efforts to combat other infectious diseases include:

  • A planned $150 million investment in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop safe and effective vaccines in 100 days to stop the next pandemic.
  • Annual $1 billion investments through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to help local health systems better respond to HIV and other health threats.
  • A $770 million investment through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative in 2020 to fight malaria, helping deliver malaria medicine to almost 60 million people.

Promoting good nutrition

On December 7, 2021, the United States announced a plan to invest up to $11 billion over three years to combat global malnutrition, the underlying cause of nearly half of childhood deaths globally.

The U.S. supports efforts to end malnutrition and improve diets. Here, a nutritionist delivers meals to children and their families in Seattle during school closures for COVID-19 in May 2020. (© Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

From 2010 to 2017, the United States invested more than $19 billion in nutrition programs, among the highest figures of any global donor.

“Good nutrition is both essential to safeguarding children’s lives and their ability to achieve their full physical and intellectual potential,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, announcing the commitment, which is subject to congressional approval.

“We will work to see to it that global crises, including COVID-19 and the climate crisis, do not worsen the global nutrition situation and that negative trends in malnutrition are reversed,” he added.