The coronavirus has taken the lives of more than 600 Kentuckians within the last four months. With daily updates and avid announcements, Kentucky has been able to ensure the safety of much of the population. For developing countries with a lack of access to primary health care and poor health infrastructures, they would never be able to handle a pandemic in such an efficient manner.
Health infrastructures continue to be flawed in many parts of the world, leading to devastating consequences like outbreaks of infectious diseases. Comprehensive primary healthcare is a consistent need in humanitarian emergencies, and Representative Hal Rogers has taken the initiative to address this issue within the U.S. House.
Mr. Rogers serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS.) Representative Rogers has been a true advocate this year as he has pushed for prioritizing comprehensive primary health care in humanitarian emergencies. We are grateful for the effort he has put into this initiative as it will save many peoples’ lives.
Currently, half the world’s population lacks access to essential health services, according to WHO and the World Bank. When comprehensive primary health care is affordable, available, and good quality, it can meet up to 80% of people’s health care needs. For example, the nine-year war in Syria has further decimated the health infrastructure for the entire country.
With consistent attacks on health facilities in Syria, the national health care infrastructure is incapable of handling COVID-19. For the Syrian refugees, their environment within refugee camps is not favorable for blocking the spread of COVID-19. There is a crucial need for aid in humanitarian health emergencies, like COVID-19, and the recent actions of the House appropriations SFOPS subcommittee will help many people in future health emergencies.
It is important to recognize the growing shortfalls in humanitarian health aid, which are worse than overall humanitarian aid shortfalls. Money should be allocated specifically towards funding humanitarian health aid efforts to assist in not only combatting our current health emergency but future emergencies as well. International organizations, such as the UN and WHO, have received less and less money for humanitarian efforts over the last several years.
By allocating funds towards international primary health care efforts, humanitarian organizations will be more prepared, which will help to limit the detrimental impact of shortfalls in funding and prevent costs from spiraling out of control.
Representative Rogers has supported health care issues in the past, and recently, he has made it a goal to support both Kentuckians and Americans in the fight against COVID-19. Through his advocacy of improving comprehensive primary healthcare, he is supporting people around the world both during and after the global pandemic. Therefore, we are grateful that Mr. Rogers and his colleagues have prioritized the primary health care needs of displaced persons without increasing the allocation of funds.
BROOKE HARDIN is a volunteer with the Fund for Global Health. DR. ANN COLBERT, of Morehead, also contributed to this column.