Clint Cavanaugh l Palladium - Jun 07 2024
The Imperative for Funding Global Health Security

Clint Cavanaugh, Palladium Global Health Partner

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent fallout, we’re seeing a very active shift around the world from governments and health organisations alike towards finding ways to advance Global Health Security (GHS) priorities. Broadly, GHS is the ability of public health systems to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats worldwide. It’s a critical part of our healthcare system but it goes beyond the sector of healthcare and is also a matter of state security.

U.S. President Biden recently signed the 2024 fiscal year budget into law, which though it avoided a government shutdown, made concessions that concern the global health community. Among the concessions was a US$200 million cut to the global health security account at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In addition to funding, the bill included a one-year authorisation for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Launched in 2003, the landmark program plays a critical role in global health security and is lauded as one of the U.S.’s most successful initiatives, saving more than 25 million lives worldwide.

It’s important to note that while there are always going to be competing demands for donor resourcing to align to global humanitarian and development agendas, now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal as we work to ensure that the world is prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to the next set of emerging threats.

For those that have worked to mitigate the impact of a separate pandemic over the last two decades through PEPFAR, they have seen first-hand how bold resourcing and intent can be transformational in changing the global landscape for the better, particularly for vulnerable populations.

If we are going to be bold in preparing for the next pandemic, it’s estimated that we need US$30 billion annually to resource global health security efforts effectively, two-thirds of which should come from domestic financing and one-third from external or donor financing. It’s also clear that the same donor pool that is supporting the HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis infectious disease responses around the world, are also facing humanitarian responses in settings of civil and political unrest.

Yet, with time and distance from the COVID-19 pandemic, collective appreciation of the potential impact from an emerging threat has started to wane.

Recent modelling suggests that those of us reading this now have a 40% chance of experiencing a pandemic on par or even more severe that COVID-19 within our lifetime and those odds will likely double over the next few decades. It’s imperative for the global community to prioritise funding and resourcing for global health security which is, and will continue to be, foundational to the work that we do across the development landscape.

With the proper resourcing, we have the potential to leapfrog in our global ability to position against emerging threats by applying innovations and adaptions that have come out of the pandemic, but also through impactful and measured approaches developed through PEPFAR, PMI, and tuberculosis programming.

Looking Ahead

By leveraging synergies in these bold initiatives, there are opportunities that will effectively acknowledge and support the roles women are playing and will continue to play in the global health security response.

Most frontline health workers are women, from nurses based in primary healthcare facilities to mobile cadres of community health workers. Nurses and community health workers are the first line of defence in an outbreak or pandemic scenario.

According to recent reports, women make up 90% of all patient-facing global healthcare workers and the global community needs to not only acknowledge that, but work together to better support women with policies, resources, and support to ensure that their leadership roles are acknowledged, strengthened and leveraged around early detection, prevention, and treatment of emerging threats.

This guidance falls squarely in line with Palladium’s Integrated Health Security strategy, which is shifting the focus within GHS programming to support equitable and effective risk reduction approaches globally. “We’re seeing that our approach reflects strengths and leadership in driving contextually appropriate and durable solutions at the global, regional, national, and subnational level,” says Prof. Ian Sanne, Palladium Chief Medical Officer.

This multi-sectoral approach goes beyond the high level One Health framing at the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health and also include epidemiologic surveillance and laboratory capacitation, supported by data systems in routine health surveillance including antimicrobial resistance, for rapid identification of disease threats, rapid reporting and activation of an emergency response as needed.

“Our country partners are prioritising integrated primary health services at the community level, and this approach is strengthening their resilience and agility in preparation for future shocks,” adds Suneeta Sharma, Palladium Vice President for Global Health. “Looking ahead, we can most effectively support them with innovations in planning, real-time data use, and efficient financing, so they can react and respond in any changing environment.”

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