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In global fight against COVID, support for health workers is key | READER COMMENTARY

A patient undergoes a nasal swab to check for COVID-19 at a testing center in Soweto, South Africa on May 11, 2022. The head of Africa's top public health institute urged authorities across the continent on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 to step up COVID-19 testing amid a concerning rise in new cases in some countries. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Almost 90% of Maryland residents are at least partially vaccinated, and a vast majority are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (”How are Maryland COVID cases, vaccinations and other metrics trending? Here are the latest numbers.” Nov. 23). As Marylanders continue to forge ahead in the fight against COVID, we should not forget that our current success is due to the hard work of our front line health care workers. It is important for front line health care workers to be adequately supported with the supplies that they need to prevent and treat illness. The availability of COVID vaccines, tests and protective gear, such as gloves and masks, helps health care workers to continue to keep the virus at bay.

Nevertheless, the burden of COVID-19 is not local but global. Some front line health care workers in low and low-middle-income countries and workers in disaster and conflict-stricken communities do not have access to the medical supplies they need to prevent and treat COVID and other infectious diseases. Stopping the spread of disease in these countries requires a robust and comprehensive primary health care system. The benefits of comprehensive primary health care for vulnerable populations are immense. That’s why we need to provide foreign aid to developing countries to strengthen their primary health care systems. This will help to save lives and reduce the burden of future outbreaks and pandemics.

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Thankfully, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen is in a position to support such increased funding for health care workers globally. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds foreign aid and chairs the subcommittee that sets Africa and global health policy. For the coming year, I hope he will support expanded funding for the basic medicines and supplies front line health care workers need to do their jobs. This would strengthen the health systems of vulnerable countries and reduce preventable death.

Increased funding for front line health care workers helps protect us all irrespective of where we live. Supporting primary health care efforts for the world’s most vulnerable populations is the right thing to do in these times.

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— Jade Obayuwana, Bowie

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