USA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it is awarding more than US$3 billion to help strengthen public health workforce and infrastructure across the United States after the COVID-19 pandemic put severe stress on them.

The public health agency’s funding includes US$3 billion from the American Rescue Plan announced by President Joe Biden’s administration last year and

Of the US$3.2 billion awarded, US$3 billion comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and will allow jurisdictions to recruit, retain and train their workforce in all state, local, and territorial health departments across the country.

It also includes US$140 million from a new appropriation to those jurisdictions and an award of US$65 million to three public health entities to help provide training and technical assistance.

The pandemic severely stressed (the health) agencies, which were already weakened by neglect and underinvestment,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

 “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure.”

Some public health systems relied on outdated technology, such as the fax machine, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed their response to the crisis.

Disjointed state and local public health systems contributed to inconsistent data reporting, which was exacerbated by a lack of data standards, The Hill reports.

The grant is the first of its kind, and all U.S. citizens live in a jurisdiction that will benefit from it.

The announcement comes at a time when the United States is experiencing a growing shortage of healthcare workers.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the country will face a physician shortage of up to 124,000 by 2033, including both primary care physicians and specialists.

A recent study also found a link between a lack of mental health care providers and increased youth suicide rates.

According to the CDC, the funding allocations were tailored to meet the unique needs of jurisdictions and will benefit economically or socially marginalized communities, rural communities, and communities with people from racial and ethnic minority groups.

While the US government makes some of the largest investments in public health history, grassroots organizations working in underserved communities say they are being overlooked, CNN reports.

These organizations are especially disappointed because the federal government relied on them to encourage vaccination and other mitigation measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Venus Ginés, president of Da de la Mujer Latina, a health advocacy group in Texas, community groups are frequently asked to do health promotion work without receiving government funding.

Many say they do unpaid work because they care about their communities and don’t want to sever ties with potential funders.

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