OPINION: How to Fund the Ebola Fight
Friday, September 26, 2014
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa receives daily international coverage, with good reason, as the human and economic crisis intensifies in four nations—Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria. The World Health Organization has called for international cooperation to halt the spread of the deadly virus, advocating for a massive emergency response. With no approved vaccine or therapeutic, treating infected individuals is that much more difficult, and the question arises on how to better prepare for the next pandemic.
One approach to fight pandemics would be to establish a fund earmarked for two purposes: An immediate-response fund would provide assistance to countries with weaker health infrastructure to fight present outbreaks while other funds would be channeled for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, or diagnostics for emerging diseases such as Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and Chikungunya.
The United States should take the lead in establishing such a fund by requiring a tax on airline tickets for all passengers traveling in and out of the country. Extra charges are not unprecedented with passengers already paying a tax on tickets to pay for homeland security. The U.S. Department of Transportation Statistics reports 181,413,042 international passengers departed or arrived at U.S. airports in 2013—most with round trips. Adding $3 per international ticket would amount to about $500 million per year.
- Health Care