Underfunding Public Health Is a Decision to Let People Die in the Next Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, and monkeypox is now considered to be a serious threat. a public health emergency in the U.S.,Officially, we are currently experiencing two viral-disease crisis. Public health experts know what it takes to get a disease outbreak under control — widespread identification/testing, treatment and prevention. The systemic problems with funding and operation of health care have led to a systemic problem in which the public health system is reactive rather than proactive. Our public health system has been criticized for being reactive and not proactive. chronically underfundedIt is understaffed and, in certain areas, stripped of its legal power.

Key federal public health preparedness and response programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement, the Hospital Preparedness Program, and the Prevention and Public Health Fund — are not getting the resources they need. The CDC budgetAfter inflation adjustment, the cost of, which is a major source for funding for local and state health departments, has only increased by 11 percent in the past decade. The Hospital Preparedness Program and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement have had to deal with severe weather. cumulatively budget decreasesWhen inflation is taken into account between the 2000s and 2022, these figures are 48 percent and 61 per cent, respectively. These programs experienced an influx of emergency fundingThey were operating at levels well below their pre-pandemic peak despite being reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Affordable Care Act established the Prevention and Public Health Fund. It has not been operational since. faced constant threatsPolicy makers who want to use it to offset the costs of other administration priorities. Meanwhile, funding for state- and local health departments is declining. remained flat or declinedThe past decade has seen a significant increase in the number of people who are able to afford it. health department workforce shrank23 percent between 2008-2019

The funding structure of U.S. healthcare departments contributes to the workforce shortage problem. This is one reason why 50,000 public health jobs lostDuring the Great Recession of 2008, they were never replaced. Many departments heavily rely on grant funding for specific diseases, which can lead to insecure and limited positions. This type of discretionary funding has multiple problems. It takes time and resources for these grants to be applied for. This is something most health departments already lack. Recruitment of qualified personnel is difficult because funding is often limited and can only be used within a single fiscal period. Public health graduates are increasingly turning to the field because of the uncertain funding and the low pay. private sector for employment.

According to the 2021 survey, more than 40 per cent of public-health workers may lose their jobs within the next five years. Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey. While the public sector workforce is underpaid and overworked in terms of their health, the politicization relating to the COVID-19 pandemic response introduced new issues that led to worker burnout and negative public attention.

While most public health professionals have been used to anonymity in their work, many have had to contend recently with armed protesters. threats to themselves or personal property. According to a study in the American Journal of Public HealthAccording to a study, 57% of local health departments reported being harassed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This forced 256 officials from March 2020 to January 2021 to resign.

This exodus will slowly reduce the skills of public health workers and decrease their ability to respond in future emergencies. This is at a time where current estimates indicate that state and local public healthcare departments require an 80 percent increase in staff to provide minimum public health services (e.g.: communicable diseases control, chronic disease prevention, assessment, surveillance, policy development, support, etc.). — according to a report from the de Beaumont Foundation. In times of simultaneous public health emergencies, like we are currently experiencing now, even more staffing is needed to provide the necessary “people power” for effective case investigation and contact tracing to slow down disease transmission.

Many conservative state legislatures are also reversing the trend. authority of public health agencies or officials to institute policies that protect the public’s health. At least 26 statesThey have also passed laws that limit public health power. These include legislative attemptsTo undermine the authority of public healthcare agencies to close down businesses in the name public safety, to institute vaccine requirements, mask mandates or quarantine infected persons. Threats to have been added to the political pressure. pull or redirect public health funding. This will collectively weaken local, state, and national efforts to combat the next pandemic.

Public health is often a victim its own success. Public health is often blindsided by its own success. It is hard to see the disasters that are prevented by preparedness. This creates a boom-and–bust cycle in public healthcare spending in emergencies.

The politicians who are elected to power control the public health funding purse strings. Research has shown that the U.S. voters view politicians more favorablyFor delivering disaster relief spending, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, there is a significant relationship between increased relief spending and additional voting. This encourages lawmakers to continue with reactive funding.

Monkeypox proved that there is always the possibility of another pandemic. It is therefore imperative that we improve our public health system and better prepare for another pandemic.

A more proactive approach to funding public health in this country doesn’t just involve spending more, it also involves changing how we appropriate these funds. One option is for government to increase the mandatory portion of public health spending instead of discretionary. This would reduce the year-to–year funding variability that negatively affects state and local healthcare departments.

Another option is for the government not to provide siloed or catgorical funding but to instead provide general funds that allow public health agencies to spend as they see fit.

A third option would be for the government to award funding based on a measure of community need, like an “area deprivation index.” Doing so would be more equitable than awarding funding through competitive grant programs, which can further disparities by rewarding agencies with the resources and skills to submit successful grant applications at the expense of those in poor or underserved communities. These are some policies that can improve public health in the United States.