We cannot turn away from those affected by war. But we don’t have to accept extreme suffering in one part of the planet to alleviate it in another. While it will be challenging to address the urgent needs the world now faces, we can’t afford not to. During the financial crisis, leaders showed the political will to prioritize global health. Now, too, countries and organizations that have the most to give should commit to more health aid in their upcoming budgets rather than less.
These investments help halt viral threats in one part of the world that could spread and kill people in another. The impact of the pandemic, as devastating as it has been, could have been far worse. That’s because innovations and systems that prevent and treat diseases in normal times turn out to be critical in times of crisis.
Philanthropic foundations should increase global health funding with a focus on countries with the greatest need. Pharmaceutical companies can sell their drugs at low cost to low-income countries and make more second-source deals, which allow others to manufacture their products when there are urgent needs. Big corporations can increase contributions to both humanitarian efforts and multilateral global health organizations.
And countries that face these challenges day in and day out can continue to strengthen their health systems in the ways they know make a difference. We are better equipped than ever to build a world in which where you’re born doesn’t determine whether you live or die. We can achieve a healthier and more equitable future for all — if we make bold commitments now.