Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases – most of which are preventable – disrupt the lives of millions of Americans every year and have a significant financial impact. COVID-19 is the latest and starkest example. The pandemic caused the deaths of nearly 600,000 Americans and unprecedented disruption in people’s lives from job loss to social isolation and mental distress, to learning loss in children. Additional examples of infectious disease outbreaks include the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the 2015 and 2016 Zika outbreak. Influenza, antibiotic resistant super bugs and food borne illness are additional concerns. Despite these serious and sometimes deadly impacts, investments in infectious disease prevention and control ebb and flow in response to outbreaks.

Heightened attention to a disease during an outbreak is necessary, but the best way to prevent infectious disease is through sustained attention to the causes of the illness and how it spreads, and investment in prevention programs. Emergencies and new threats are inevitable. What is needed is sustained public health funding to ensure that communities can invest in prevention programs and have the built-in ability to surge their response capacity during a health emergency.

Read TFAH’s report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, 2021.

 

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