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Opinion: COVID is not the only pandemic

Massive efforts to develop new vaccines and put them in people’s arms are protecting more and more Americans from the COVID pandemic.

However, many countries around the world, increasingly overwhelmed by COVID-19, simply do not have the resources to fight it, at least on their own. In fact, this is not the only pandemic they face.

Americans might be surprised that the deadliest infection in much of the world is still tuberculosis (TB). Between 2015 and 2019, TB infection dropped by 9% and deaths decreased by 14%. But now, as funding and medical personnel are diverted to fight the newest pandemic, over a decade of progress against TB, especially drug-resistant variants, is slipping away.

True, this is not a disease that greatly affects privileged populations in the global north —not currently anyway. But does that justify neglecting millions of lives that could be saved if Congress has the political will to fund such a vital, longterm global health priority?

The same goes for pandemic effects on education and hunger. Research indicates that COVID-19 has set back the education of about 80% of the world’s school-aged children. It has also driven around 150 million additional people into extreme poverty, which means millions more children will be malnourished and permanently harmed.

By providing sufficient resources in next year’s budget, Congress could strengthen education and healthcare systems globally and save countless lives. In addition to substantial appropriations to fight COVID-19, robust funding towards TB control, global education, and global nutrition is needed to save lives and truly demonstrate America’s global leadership.

I call on Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, and my Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, to be bold in taking on the devastating pandemics sweeping the world. Thank you for your leadership and please continue to champion funding levels that will truly make a difference.

Alice Feng
RESULTS NJ Delaware Valley Chapter Advocate
Princeton High School Class of 2021
Princeton

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