An Insider’s Analysis of the World Health Organization’s $31 Billion Pandemic Plan—Garrett Brown

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“Global health governance is not fit for purpose, and it doesn’t represent a vast majority of global needs and wants and desires, and people on the ground and what’s going to affect them. It gets captured.”

Today I sit down with Garrett Brown, professor of global health policy at the University of Leeds. Brown has been working on strengthening health systems in the African context for decades.

“You can talk about rights and freedoms, but none of those matter if you don’t have good health. You can’t exercise any of those things,” he says. “It’s a fundamental part of what it means to be human and have any minimally decent life.”

Brown and his research team were recently hired by the World Health Organization to determine whether its $31.1 billion plan for pandemic preparedness and response was justifiable, or even feasible.

“The worry is that if you’re asking nations to pony up roughly $26 billion, where are they going to find that money? They’re going to find it from existing programs,” says Brown. “Indonesia has just basically suspended their polio program and moved those human resources into vaccines.”

Brown is troubled by the high cost of the WHO’s pandemic plan, which would require resources for basic health to decrease by 34 percent, and basic nutrition by 10 percent.

“We saw this with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS, reproductive health—that resources were being shifted from certain national budget lines into pandemic preparedness,” says Brown.

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