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Making the case for investing in global health security

November 1, 2017 by PATH

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PATH's use of advocacy to help stop outbreaks from becoming pandemics.

Ebola. Pandemic flu. Zika. Nipah. Despite advances in public health, medicine, and technology over the past century, the world remains highly vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks. An outbreak anywhere can quickly become a threat everywhere, and the greatest risks stem from the weakest health systems in the poorest communities around the world. That is why PATH advocates for steady and sustained funding for programs that strengthen health systems and advance new tools that help stop outbreaks before they spread. We’re sounding the alarm, and policymakers are listening.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 was a wake-up call for the world. While laudable progress has been achieved since then—especially through the Global Health Security Agenda—the work to reduce global health threats with pandemic potential has only just begun. Advancements made in protecting people around the world from epidemics is at risk of being lost if funding is not sustained.

That is why PATH advocates for sustained funding for programs that help build capacity for countries around the world to better prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks, as well as research and development for new tools like vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics to prevent and treat disease outbreaks.

The US government has been a leader in the Global Health Security Agenda and is a leading public-sector donor for research and development for health. However, global health programs—including outbreak prevention and preparedness efforts—have come under threat in light of the US Administration’s policy of protecting domestic interests first and pulling back from international aid programs. With concerted advocacy efforts, PATH and its advocacy partners have been successful in protecting funds that help improve health security. We have made clear that the US government cannot safeguard Americans’ health unless other countries can prevent outbreaks from spreading, and unless we have a strong pipeline of new drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and other technologies for diseases likely to become pandemics.

PATH’s report, “Healthier World, Safer America: A US Government Roadmap for International Action to Prevent the Next Pandemic” focuses on the importance of strong US government leadership on global health security and outlines what the US Administration and Congress must do to support global prevention, detection, and rapid response to emerging heath threats.

Using this report as a foundation, and building on our technical expertise in implementing global health security programming, PATH has successfully leveraged media advocacy and direct engagement with decision-makers to not only protect, but even garner some increases in funding for global health security, without taking funds away from other vital global health programs. For example, in the fiscal year 2018 budget that Congress passed, as well as the fiscal year 2019 budget currently being developed, Congress has largely protected global health funds. Importantly, Congress has also adopted the budget increases PATH suggested to make up for impending shortfalls for global health security programs at both USAID and CDC. The Senate also rejected proposals to rescind unused emergency funds that could be put toward future outbreak prevention efforts. We continue to monitor the policy and funding environment and draw on PATH’s experiences working in partnership with countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Vietnam to demonstrate the positive impact of investments in preparedness.

Read the report and view highlights from the media campaign:

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