Health security is national security (The Dallas Morning News)

The global coronavirus pandemic compels us to rethink how we approach development assistance, cooperation, innovation and international organizations.

The Dallas Morning News is publishing a multi-part series on important issues for voters to consider as they decide who to vote for president this year. This is the second installment of our What’s at Stake series, and it focuses on foreign policy. Find the full series here.

There are three things that the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear about public health: it’s global; it’s intrinsically tied to economic prosperity; and it is a part of our national security.

While we annually pour billions into our national defense, federal support of public health has been stagnant. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding specific to state and local public health preparedness has been cut from $939 million in fiscal year 2003 to $675 million in 2020. Over the last decade, frontline state and local health departments have lost more than 56,000 positions due to funding cuts. Yet America has lost more lives to COVID-19 than we did in the Vietnam War or World War I. And in just a few short months, we have already spent more in COVID-19 relief packages than we have on the Iraq War.

The cost of our lack of preparedness has been staggering, with economic devastation surpassing the Great Recession and unemployment rates on par with the Great Depression. This life-altering event needs more than emergency spending bills to plug holes. We need to fundamentally alter our approach to public health.

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