Letter to America

Dear America, what has happened to you? We are alarmed and shocked by your absence at the Global Public Health table. You were always the first among equals, leading in impact and generosity, saving millions and millions of lives around the world. We all so admired you, counting on your can-do spirit to help solve our myriad international challenges.

Your scientists created powerful vaccines that changed the world, allowing parents to avoid losing their children. You helped parents stay alive to raise their children. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, great American researchers, helped eradicate the scourge of polio. Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, and more — all diseases that routinely killed children — are barely seen anymore, due to American innovation and commitment to global vaccination programs.

Dr. D.A. Henderson, an American epidemiologist from the CDC, headed up WHO’s initiative to end smallpox, and he succeeded! How proud you should be, America, of your role in making life on our planet healthier for all. We were wowed by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), initiated by  President George W. Bush to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

America, you have been a vital partner in GAVI, our international organization created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. GAVI needs extra funding now; the coronavirus pandemic will require a worldwide vaccine roll-out, and millions of children are now tragically missing their routine shots. This will result in outbreaks of other killer diseases that have been under control. It’s a disaster. But America, you were not at our most recent GAVI Global Vaccine Summit. How could this possibly be? 

We know you have problems of your own and that you’ve been distracted by yours being the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world. Surely you don’t want to drop the ball now, after your successful long-term investments in global public health outcomes? You, America, would be the first to say that we are in this together. Global health crises require international teamwork.

America, we pray for your return.

Yours, The World

Betsy Teutsch
Mt. Airy