SEATTLE, Washington — The spread of COVID-19 has proven to be a major challenge to many healthcare systems across the globe. In response to this issue, U.S. government officials have emphasized the need for new legislation to better fight threatening health crises. On May 21, 2020, U.S. Senator James Risch [R-ID] introduced bill S.3829: the Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act of 2020. The bill’s priority is improving the United States’ global health security procedures and strengthening diplomacy efforts as well as advancing coordination with partner countries to implement greater objectives. By supporting relations among inner governmental departments and foreign administrations, S.3829 calls for the sustainment of health systems to better defend against future pandemics.
What is the Aim of S.3829?
The Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act of 2020 focuses on enacting a global health security strategy for the following five years. Its main concern is to increase the effectiveness of global health systems to better detect and prevent infectious diseases. This strategy includes enforcing transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign assistance, creating distinct goals for vulnerable health systems and nourishing relationships between other foreign aid programs to better pandemic readiness and response. Additionally, for the period of 2021 to 2025, the U.S. is pledging $3 billion to advance innovations in global health preparedness.
The bill also states that the World Bank would establish and manage a fund. Both public and private investments would be accepted to promote global security aid for countries with an evident need for help. However, the U.S. would account for no more than 33% of the total contribution. The U.S. would also collaborate with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a foundation that works to develop vaccines and increase access to them during outbreaks of infectious diseases. Since its establishment in 2017, CEPI has raised $1.4 billion in support of vaccine research and application.
Status of the Bill
S.3829 was introduced into the Senate on May 21. Since then, it has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. Currently, it awaits further rounds of approval before being signed into law. It currently has three co-sponsors: Senator Christopher Murphy [D-CT], Senator Benjamin Cardin [D-MD] and its most recent sponsor, Senator Rob Portman [R-OH]. The approval of the Global Health Security and Diplomacy Act of 2020 would not only bolster disease outbreak response but it would also gradually lessen the need for long-term U.S. foreign assistance. This would happen by helping countries’ health systems become more resilient.
When discussing the bill, Senator Benjamin Cardin states that working to improve weak health systems around the world is additionally beneficial in strengthening national security in the United States and looks forward to seeing this legislation advance onward. Many countries in poverty do not have access to vaccinations for common diseases such as malaria and pneumonia. As a result, more than two million children die each year from preventable diseases. By promoting health system organization and effectiveness, S.3829 would catalyze both vaccine accessibility and discovery, thus leading to saved lives around the world.
– Radley Tan