The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has demonstrated that no matter how successful America is at fighting this pandemic here at home, we will never stop this threat unless we’re also fighting it around the world. In this series of issue briefs, the USGLC takes an in-depth look at the global response and COVID-19’s impacts on vulnerable populations, global development and diplomacy, and the future of U.S. global leadership. Read more from our series here.

Legacy of U.S. Investments in Global Health Security

The U.S. is the world’s largest provider of global health assistance, providing more than $140 billion over the last two decades and making enormous progress in treating diseases, strengthening health systems, and saving lives. American leadership in global health security is all the more important in preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside other infectious diseases threats like Ebola and Zika. U.S. investments in health systems around the world – including infrastructure like hospitals and roads, skills training for healthcare workers, and public education campaigns – can help countries contain pandemics at their source.

  • The success of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which helped curb the AIDS epidemic and has saved 20 million lives since 2003, is a telling example of the vast impact of U.S. leadership on global health security.
  • The U.S. has invested $85 billion in PEPFAR – investments which have helped to strengthen overall health systems in developing countries, and also helped countries mitigate and respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Primary U.S. Global Health Security Investments

Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA): The GHSA was launched in 2014 as an international partnership of 65 nations, international organizations and NGOs. Through setting targets and facilitating cross-country collaboration, the agenda works to improve nations’ capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases around the world, bolstering international health security.

  • America’s support for the GHSA helped mitigate disease outbreaks in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Burkina Faso in 2017 thanks to improved equipment, training, and facilities. The U.S. has also enhanced disease monitoring systems in 13 countries, allowing for the rapid detection of diseases and quicker response.
  • The U.S. has committed an initial $1 billion to reach GHSA targets in 17 partner countries that total a third of the world’s population, making an additional $150 million investment in 2018 to help advance the agenda through 2024 and support 14 additional countries.

CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection: The Division of Global Health Protection works with partner countries to help build core public health capacities that are needed to identify and contain outbreaks before they reach the United States.

  • CDC has responded to over 2,200 outbreaks and other global health emergencies since 2007, with 500 emergency mobilizations since 2015 alone.

U.S. Agency for International Development: USAID’s global health and development programs make it less likely for diseases like COVID-19 or Ebola to spread rapidly – and make it easier to respond if they do.

  • In 2014, the Ebola outbreak was projected to spread to as many as 550,000 people and cost more than $32 billion. This worst-case scenario was avoided due to America’s swift whole-of-government response, as USAID, the State Department, and the CDC provided immediate assistance and helped stabilize communities.
  • More recently, U.S. agencies played a critical role in ending several Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, including the second-largest outbreak ever that was complicated by conflict and violence at the outbreak’s epicenter.
  • Through its PREDICT program, USAID invested $207 million between in 2009 and 2019 in training and helping developing countries detect and monitor animal viruses that have the potential of spreading to humans. The program collected over 140,000 biological samples from animals and discovered more than 1,000 new viruses between 2009 and 2019. In 2020, USAID announced a $100 million investment in the STOP SPILLOVER program, a successor initiative to PREDICT.

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