Leading health and public health organizations in the United States are seeking $4.5 billion in additional annual funding for states, localities, tribes, and territories to support public health infrastructure and workforce.
Representatives from 316 organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to include such funding in the next COVID-19 legislation. This would strengthen the response to the current pandemic and better prepare the country for the next public health emergency.
The health and public safety leaders said a significant, sustained investment is needed to support essential public health activities, including disease surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, all-hazards preparedness and response, and policies to advance health equity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is illustrating in the direst terms the consequences of underfunding public health,” the letter said. “For too long, the nation has neglected basic public health capacity, and the nation’s response to the pandemic reflects this chronic underfunding.”
The organizations applauded Congress for taking quick action to provide funding for the initial pandemic response. However, they noted that short-term, supplemental funding does not allow public health to recruit and retain the workforce needed to protect the public’s health against several growing threats, including surging levels of chronic disease, substance misuse and suicide, infectious disease, and weather-related events.