Trump ready for pandemic?

Global health at risk after Trump administration cuts

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Will Donald Trump's budget cuts exasperate a pandemic?

It took just three months in office for President Barack Obama to face his first pandemic when a new strain of H1N1 swine flu was detected in the US. Following initial cases in April 2009, it soon spread and reached pandemic status, killing more than 18,000 people worldwide. Over the course of his presidency, Mr Obama faced cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola and the Zika virus.

Although he is still relatively new to the White House, and politics in general, Donald Trump must be able to respond to a global health crisis. A pandemic has no sense of convenience, and can strike at any time without due consideration. While he still may be unpacking his boxes, and breaking in the new job, the President has to be prepared.

Global disease does not know borders, and pandemics are crossing them faster than ever, observes USA Today. It criticises President Trump's decision to completely eliminate the National Institute of Health's Fogarty International Centre in his recent budget.

The centre is "one of the most effective tools we have to fight global disease" by promoting and facilitating international health research of "mutual benefit to the US and other countries".

While the President has proposed an increase of $54 billion to the military budget - to solidify the security of the nation - he is ignoring the pandemic threats as an issue of national security. The Business Insider argues that his budget cuts may make the next pandemic even more deadly. More than one third of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) budget combats global health security, yet Mr Trump wants to slash funding by 37 per cent.

According to Vox, the President has set the US up to "botch a global health crisis". Through his isolationist 'America first' rhetoric and his proposed travel ban hampering research collaboration, they argue he may put politics above public health.

He has also failed to appoint a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director following the resignation of Tom Frieden in January. Scientists and researchers from the CDC lead the response to serious infectious disease outbreak, inside or outside the US. They are also facing a 12 per cent cut to their funding.

The Department for Health and Human Sciences (HHS) are without a key role, with the President yet to nominate an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Global Biodefense lists their job responsibilities as: building federal emergency operational capabilities, developing medical countermeasures, and providing grants to strengthen the capabilities of hospitals to cope with medical disasters.

Politico link the unreadiness of the Trump administration to the President's lack of scientific understanding. During the Ebola outbreak, he tweeted that health workers should be barred from returning to the US, despite reassurance from US government disease experts that their return would not impact public health. He has shown "little respect for scientific expertise", evident in his attitude towards climate change and vaccination.

Donald Trump has vowed to put America first, and involvement in global health issues may go against this rhetoric; but by combating pandemics through research and collaboration, the President can put America first by making sure it is ready for the next one.

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Trump recruits controversial Bush-era global health official

William "Bill" Steiger, a global health official under former President George W. Bush who crossed swords with many scientists, is now advising President Donald Trump.

Steiger is working at the U.S. Department of State on a so-called "beachhead team," which helps agencies transition from the Obama to the Trump administration. Several sources tell Insider that Steiger attended the executive board meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, in January. Steiger did not respond to an email request for an interview.

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