Giving Compass' Take:
- Adam M. Doyno discusses the importance of keeping up momentum on data- and science-driven public health funding.
- Why are public health institutions underfunded? What can donors and funders do to help?
- Read more about the public health sector.
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It’s a haunting irony that New Yorkers and the nation have crossed the second anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdowns just as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has recommended the PREVENT Pandemics Act to the full Senate—but without a firm commitment to fund it. Can we hope for a bipartisan, sensible outcome that supports a unified response to future crises by funding infectious disease surveillance, forecasting, and preparedness centers?
Indeed, the nearly one million deaths in the United States and six million deaths worldwide to date call for a paradigm shift in which science- and data-driven public health becomes a leading investment focus for government, foundations, and individual donors.
The need for public health funding is as great as it ever has been. Enormous global emergencies are looming—with the spread of COVID-19, polio, and other viruses among Ukrainian refugees as one tragic possibility. There is an urgent need for public health institutions to transform their learnings about COVID-19, Ebola, HIV, and other deadly illnesses into guideposts for preventing or responding to the next pandemic.
Unfortunately, U.S. public health institutions have been underfunded for years. A new study led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation estimates that a complete overhaul of U.S. health and preparedness could cost $100 billion in the first year alone.
Last year, the Trust for America’s Health called for a modest $4.5 billion—outside of COVID-19 response efforts—to shore up the nation’s core public health capabilities in strengthening emergency preparedness, chronic disease and suicide prevention, health equity, and a diverse and highly skilled public health workforce. On the last point, years of budget cuts have left a shortage of 80,000 full-time public health staff to meet basic community health needs at the state and local levels, according to a research brief from the de Beaumont Foundation and the Public Health National Center for Innovations, a division of the Public Health Accreditation Board.