SEATTLE, Washington — As of February 2021, there were over 104 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 2 million deaths due to the global pandemic. Congress has remained busy trying to pass relief bills for U.S. citizens, but it is vital that U.S. politicians also direct their gaze toward global pandemic relief efforts. Many developing countries face heightened health and economic crises due to the pandemic. Here are some programs, policies and politicians supporting global pandemic relief efforts.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is a key contributor in supporting global pandemic relief efforts. WHO contributes by:
- Sending necessary supplies and equipment to over 150 countries
- Helping create treatment centers
- Providing technical guidance documents that present accurate data and establish best practices
- Working with world leaders to coordinate an effective, ethical worldwide response
- Sending out emergency medical teams when needed and assisting in COVID-19 research and development
Working alongside and financially contributing to WHO is one of the most important ways to support global pandemic relief. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris prioritized the United States’ involvement in foreign affairs by reinstating our relationship with the World Health Organization. They acknowledged, in a White House COVID-19 response statement, that WHO is not perfect; however, they recognized its importance in supporting global pandemic relief efforts.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID is active in its support for global pandemic relief efforts. Through Congress’s funding, it has provided over $1.6 billion specifically for COVID-19 related humanitarian, medical and economic needs.
President Biden committed to strengthening USAID and designated a portion of its resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale. Biden nominated Samantha Power, a journalist, war correspondent, U.S. ambassador and Cabinet member, Harvard teacher and Pulitzer-prize winning author to run USAID. Power’s experience with infectious diseases comes from her work during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Referring to Samantha Power, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “And she will not only help lift up the world’s most vulnerable and advance our nation’s interests around the world, she will be a powerful voice for the values and ideals we cherish as Americans.”
USAID plays an important role in fostering healthy foreign relations and contributing to global development and progress. Many Republicans and Democrats agree on the necessity of USAID’s involvement in supporting global pandemic relief efforts.
The International Affairs Budget
Protecting the International Affairs Budget is also critical in supporting global pandemic relief efforts. It disperses aid to underdeveloped countries and responds to pandemics, but it also creates jobs in the United States by opening new markets. The International Affairs budget also protects U.S. citizens by combatting terrorism and diverting conflicts.
The International Affairs Budget is currently at risk for proposed budgetary cuts. However, some Congressional leaders have vocally rejected the proposed cuts including Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY 5th), Representative Ed Royce (R-CA 39th), Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY 17th), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ 11th), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL 3rd) and Representative Eliot Engle (D-NY 16th). Representative Ed Royce (R-CA 39th) said, “I am very concerned that deep cuts to our diplomacy will hurt efforts to combat terrorism, distribute critical humanitarian aid, and promote opportunities for American workers.”
Historically, The International Affairs Budget allocated funds to USAID to assist West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. The budget plays a significant role in supporting global pandemic relief efforts.
The United States best succeeds when all other nations are thriving. Developing countries face heightened health and economic crises due to the pandemic, and, while there is much to improve upon, U.S. leaders are making strides toward aligning our priorities with the worldwide needs surrounding us, especially as it pertains to global pandemic relief efforts.
– Hannah Brock
Photo: White House