The newly updated HEROES Act not only proposes support for COVID-19 pandemic response in the United States, but also adds critical emergency funding for global health programs.
Additional funding for Gavi, the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and the USAID Emergency Reserve Fund are all desperately needed to respond to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 around the world. Global health investments proposed by the new version of the HEROES Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and goes next to the Senate, will save lives by supporting vaccine production and distribution in low-and middle-income countries and strengthening health systems to respond to COVID-19 and future outbreaks. The proposed language also provides USAID with the authority to contribute to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a critical step in supporting equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring Americans and all people around the world have the tools needed to respond to and prevent outbreaks.
PATH also applauds the inclusion of the Global Health Security Act within the HEROES bill. This Act improves U.S. leadership in global pandemic response by cementing into law changes made through an Executive Order written in the wake of the Ebola crisis. It would also designate a permanent official to coordinate U.S. agencies for prevention and response.
We urge the Senate to move quickly in taking up this important legislation; however, we note with concern that proposed increases for global health were offset by eliminating crucial funding from other critical humanitarian and disaster relief accounts. COVID-19 has reversed at least a decade of progress in the fight against extreme poverty and has exacerbated health, economic, and social challenges. We urge legislators to fully fund global health programs as well as other humanitarian relief and development programs which are providing critical assistance to the world’s most vulnerable populations.