Frontline Blog

The consequences of underfunding public health

January 2023

Overhead image of people standing in an outdoor square

As part of a Health Affairs Forefront blog series, BCHC’s board chair and vice-chair, Mysheika Roberts, MD, MPH, and Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, reflect on leading the Columbus and Chicago health departments through the mpox – and the larger consequences of underfunding public health.

They write, “Over the years, federal agencies have repeatedly asked jurisdictions to take already-too-small pots of money, initially intended to fund preparedness, and spend it instead, on emergency response. The upshot is that local health departments, in particular, were left without funding to sustain the basic infrastructure needed to prepare for or respond to major day-to-day health challenges as well as public health emergencies. These two responsibilities—preparedness and response—are not mutually exclusive, and we need a system that is well resourced and flexible to do both in the face of a host of public health challenges.”