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How the Biden-Harris administration can improve public health worldwide

By Advocacy & Policy

The United States is among the largest funders of global health. As it welcomes new leadership, PATH’s policy team outlines objectives and key policy asks for systemic change. 

COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change—these are the priorities outlined by the Biden-Harris administration.

PATH’s work—global public health—intersects with each of these. At PATH, we look forward to supporting these priorities and, to that end, we’ve outlined key objectives and policy asks that support the administration’s goals and global public health.

Strengthen the global health financing system.

The world’s health needs require significant investment, but investing in a broken system won’t solve the problem. While well-intentioned, health funding is too often siloed and misaligned with community priorities and disease burdens. To build more effective and more resilient health systems, the Biden-Harris administration should focus on:

Investing in systems, not silos.
Elevate cross-cutting health system activities and protect essential programming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doubling humanitarian and poverty-focused financing.

Double funding for foreign economic, health, and humanitarian assistance by 2025, and meet global challenges with a global response by reaffirming US commitment to multilateral systems.

Breaking the cycle of panic and neglect.

Too often, funders of global public health invest during times of crisis and withdraw as a crisis subsides. To break this cycle, increase funding for pandemic preparedness by 10-fold.

Get ahead of health crises.

As we continue responding to this pandemic, we must begin preparing for the next. The Biden-Harris administration needs to be bold in its vision for leadership in global health security. That will mean:

Ending this pandemic and preparing for the next one.

Support the global push for COVID-19 vaccines and tools (including through investment and leadership in the ACT-Accelerator and COVAX), pass legislation to close massive global gaps in pandemic preparedness, and codify a whole-of-government approach to US pandemic preparedness and response programs.

Responding to climate change as a public health crisis.

Develop a foreign assistance policy framework that links climate with public health and integrates relevant programming.

Spending on science and R&D to save lives.

Ensure any major US proposal on pandemic preparedness includes a focus on research and development (R&D), and that US health and development agencies prioritize R&D in their efforts.

Prioritize health equity in all policies.

The Biden-Harris administration will not meet its goals unless its work is rooted in health equity and justice. That looks like:

Focusing on health disparities rooted in the social determinants of health.

Critically assess all policy proposals with an eye toward equity. Ensure new funding focuses on places with the greatest health disparities and the root causes behind them, from accessibility to maternal and child survival.

Supporting communities as they define local health challenges and lead the response.

Ensure dedicated funding for health systems; support localization of aid, with more primary funding invested in local partners; encourage multi-country accountability and regional dialogue; support financing tools and programs that enhance domestic resource mobilization and accountability.

Treating racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of discrimination and violence as the public health problems they are.

Discrimination and violence create inequities that affect the health of communities—globally and in the United States. When drafting legislation or allocating funding for public health, engage communities who have been most marginalized by inequitable policies and systems and ensure their needs are reflected and prioritized.

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