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President's Budget for Global Health Far Short of What's Needed - Congress Must Fix

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 President Obama's budget, transmitted to Congress this morning, includes $8.5 billion for a Global Health Initiative. Based on projections to continue supporting robust U.S. programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria and implement GHI priorities -- $16.4 billion is required in FY2011.

The bottom line: "Through the appropriations process, the Congress has an opportunity and must work to get the Obama administration on the right track by fully funding PEPFAR, malaria and TB programs, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria and to tackle other diseases laid out in the President's Global Health Initiative," asserted Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance.

The Global Health Initiative reflects a genuine improvement in the U.S. approach to global security and development. But the funds requested will not fully implement the Global Health Initiative; in fact - this is a minimalist approach to Global Health. "I expected more from this administration," noted Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals. "The President campaigned with wonderful words, pointing out that development is part of the path to global security. But he's not following through on those words with real programmatic work...This is a blunder. Somebody at OMB just doesn't realize what's happening on the international scene."

The need to fill in the gap between rhetoric and action is urgent. Human lives and global security hang in the balance. The U.S. already aggressively employs Defense and Diplomacy in its approach to national security. To put our full weight behind a comprehensive and effective approach to security, it is imperative that Development be fully funded. "If only 4% of military spending is put toward a developmental approach, it will be an unhappy world, and a dangerous one," said Dr. Sachs.

Foreign development assistance is crucial to our national security. In order to neutralize environments that cultivate instability and terrorism, we must invest in eradicating poverty, lessen disease and expand access to education around the world. "In the administration I served in, we were clear about the absolutely critical role development played in our national security strategy. I'm encouraged by President Obama's approach with regard to policy, but to not fund it is a mistake," said Scott Evertz, former Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy in the George W. Bush administration.

The time is now. Every dollar, every day, every hour counts. To demonstrate true leadership and progress in this global crisis, President Obama's commitment to global health must be increased. The President's Global Health Initiative leaves behind millions -- including at least ten million mothers, children, family members and orphans in need of lifesaving AIDS treatment.

If President Obama had proposed full funding for the Global Health Initiative, including bilateral HIV/AIDS, in FY2011, up to:

Despite the continuing economic recession, Americans support spending on global health aid. In an October 2009 opinion poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of those polled noted that U.S. spending was too low (34%) or at about the right amount (32%) for efforts to improve health in developing countries.

Even at a time of economic distress here at home, Americans reach into their pockets when they know they can make a difference to human lives. Americans' contributions to Haiti's earthquake recovery efforts have already topped $200 million.

Founded in 2001, the Global AIDS Alliance is committed to mobilizing the political will and financial resources needed to halt global HIV/AIDS and reduce its devastating effects. GAA believes that effective AIDS advocacy must address the epidemic's fundamental links to poverty and social injustice, including gender inequality, lack of education, and violence against women and children.

-- Supporting vaccine and immunization campaigns strengthens the social fabric of villages, countries and vulnerable regions, increasing their stability and security. Providing access to medicines and bolstering health systems helps communities and countries to stabilize - and does so more effectively than nearly any other investment. -- The global financial crisis is having a devastating impact on low economic and middle income countries around the world. U.S. supported programs like PEPFAR, PMI the Global Fund to Right AIDS, TB and Malaria are critical. Obama's FY11 request for bilateral HIV/AIDS is $5.223 billion -- $2.027 billion less than the $7.25 billion authorized by the Lantos-Hyde bi-partisan legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR. -- The U.S. provides one-third of the funding to the Global Fund; reflecting our "fair share" in the world economy. Obama's request is $50 million less than the amount Congress enacted last year. The American public supports an increase in global efforts.

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance
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