While it’s true that America has long been under-prepared for a pandemic, the risks right now appear to be especially high.
Many signs point to the US retreating from supporting the global and public health efforts that can prevent epidemics of diseases like Lassa fever (which has, since January, been linked with 913 suspected cases and 73 deaths in Nigeria) or the unknown disease X.
Health officials in the US are perpetually doing the “the looming-health-disaster money scramble” each time a big outbreak rears its head. Notably, the Trump administration proposed in its latest budget to cut funding for the CDC by 20 percent, from $7.2 billion to $5.7 billion. If passed by Congress, that would bring the CDC back to its lowest level of funding since 2003.
There’s also no sign that the $1 billion pot of money Congress gave USAID and the CDC in 2015 to fight Ebola in West Africa — and help poorer countries around the world build up their disease detection and prevention systems — is going to be replenished after it’s slated to run out in 2019.
“To go back to 2003 is really quite disturbing,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of the public health nonprofit the Trust for America’s Health. “That was before we’ve seen the likelihood of what we used to consider very unusual emergencies — like significant weather emergencies and novel viruses creating epidemics that have now become almost routine.”
Read the full story by Julia Belluz at Vox
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