Commentary: How Biden can change the course of global health

President-elect Joe Biden has a rare opportunity to revitalize global health leadership during his time in office and he should pursue ambitious efforts that target the COVID-19 pandemic and address structural issues that have hindered global health for years, according to a December 1, 2020 commentary in The Lancet.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean Michelle Williams, and Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, were among the co-authors.

The authors called on Biden to help strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO) and pledge to maintain its scientific integrity and political neutrality so that it can tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to the array of health challenges facing the world. The commentary also suggested that the administration should mobilize partners to fund the United Nations’ COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan and support reforms to the WHO’s International Health Regulations.

Regarding a COVID-19 vaccine, the authors emphasized the need for equitable distribution and urged Biden to make the U.S. a participant in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, an effort among 189 countries to ensure that scores of low- and middle-income countries have access to vaccines.

The commentary also offered recommendations to the Biden administration on several other pressing issues, including the climate crisis and the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“Our proposed Biden action agenda is undoubtedly ambitious, but will reap huge benefits. COVID-19 has shown that US interests are inextricably tied to global health security,” the authors wrote. “This is the time to revitalize U.S. global health leadership, after a ruinous retreat from global solidarity under the Trump administration.”

Read The Lancet article: A global health action agenda for the Biden administration

Read a USA Today article: Health officials lay out wish list for Biden administration: Restore the CDC, prioritize health across the globe