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U.S. should be helping developing countries deal with pandemic | READER COMMENTARY

Indigenous Shipibo artist Ronin plays with a girl, during the emergency declared by the government, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, April 2, 2020. As the new coronavirus pandemic began hitting the country, President Martin Vizcarra declared a state of emergency as deaths began to mount and ordered people to stay home. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Indigenous Shipibo artist Ronin plays with a girl, during the emergency declared by the government, in Lima, Peru, Thursday, April 2, 2020. As the new coronavirus pandemic began hitting the country, President Martin Vizcarra declared a state of emergency as deaths began to mount and ordered people to stay home. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

In this time of uncertainty, people globally are coping with the harsh impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The health risks are magnified for individuals around the world experiencing poverty or who have limited access to health services. COVID-19 is testing the capacity of the U.S. health care system and it poses a greater threat to communities with fragile health care systems around the world (“Coronavirus deaths surge past 100,000 worldwide as some countries weigh reopening businesses,” April 10).

As Congress prepares for the next stage of its coronavirus response, members should include support for lower-income countries to handle the immediate crisis and to strengthen their health care systems long term. The U.S. government currently supports international organizations that do this well including the Global Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other U.S.-based programs have engaged in capacity building where it’s needed most.

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Thankfully, Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger have given their support to global health policies over the course of several years. Amid COVID-19, we must continue to build on progress made in saving the lives of millions. This is a global pandemic and it requires a global response.

Pamela Parham, Owings Mills

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