At the time of the Ebola crisis, Congress approved a one-time, five-year emergency supplemental spending package, of which $600 million was sent to the CDC to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from turning into epidemics. Anticipating that that money will run out in October 2019, the CDC has begun notifying country directors to begin planning withdrawal from 39 of 49 countries. This is not a pullout of all CDC programs — activity abroad will go on in such areas as fighting polio, malaria, HIVand tuberculosis — but it does mean retreating from frontline outposts for preventing, detecting and responding to outbreaks. According to The Post’s Lena H. Sun, the CDC plans to pull out of China, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda and Congo, among others, but would remain engaged in 10 nations.
Congress should not let the CDC effort lapse. We’re not sanguine about the fiscal situation, with big tax cuts now in place and a new budget deal just signed that seems to be opening up the spending spigots. However, if the resources are available, this program merits a claim on them. The next pandemic will come along sooner or later. The United States should not wait for the winds and waters to carry it here; far better to be prepared and vigilant abroad, and to fully underwrite the CDC’s ability to do so.