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Letter to the editor: Stefanik should support GFATM

Letter to the editor

Editor:

One lesson we should learn from COVID is that to stop a pandemic, we need robust health care systems in place to stop dangerous diseases from spreading and mutating. Otherwise, we’ll eventually face diseases even worse than COVID.

Before COVID, tuberculosis was annually killing roughly 1.4 million people and sickening almost 9 million. As bad as those numbers are, they’re an improvement. Thanks to President Bush’s PEPFAR program and congressional contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the last 20 years, TB was no longer killing 2 million a year. Then COVID hit.

The health care systems that PEPFAR and the GFATM helped create and build switched from fighting TB to COVID. According to the Stop TB Partnership, 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic reversed a dozen years of progress in fighting TB in lower-income countries with the highest TB burden.

The GFATM has a three-year plan to restore the lost progress against TB and continue building and expanding health care systems to head off future diseases before they become pandemics. But to do that, the GFATM needs at least $18 billion.

As a U.S. citizen, I’m proud the U.S. contributes about one-third of the money the GFATM uses to help other countries. I urge Representative Stefanik to support our great country in continuing its leadership role in the GFATM by supporting a $2 billion investment in the GFATM. I thank her and her staff for previous support of this program.

Susan Oehser, Bakers Mills

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