US President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would ask Congress for 63 billion dollars over six years to battle chronic global health crisis, including AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
The initiative, which officials said would increase levels of spending already pushed to historic heights by the administration of Obama's predecessor George W. Bush, will also target neglected tropical diseases, infant mortality and other health threats.
Advertisement"We cannot wall ourselves off from the world and hope for the best, nor ignore the public health challenges beyond our borders," Obama said in a statement.
"An outbreak in Indonesia can reach Indiana within days, and public health crisis abroad can cause widespread suffering, conflict, and economic contraction.
"That is why I am asking Congress to approve my Fiscal Year 2010 Budget request of 8.6 billion dollars and 63 billion dollars over six years to shape a new, comprehensive global health strategy," Obama said.
As the United States and other global powers monitored an outbreak of swine flu that started in Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton billed the global health initiative as a key plank of foreign policy.
"The President's new global health initiative will be a crucial component of American foreign policy and a signature element of smart power," Clinton said in a statement.
"Bringing better health to people around the globe is an avenue to a more secure, stable, and prosperous world," she added.
"Our investments in programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and other preventable diseases save millions of lives, reduce maternal and child mortality, and reflect our nation's leadership as a positive force for progress around the world."
Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew told reporters that the 8.6-billion-dollar figure for 2010 represented a 459-million-dollar hike on spending over the 2009 fiscal year figure requested by the Bush administration.
"There is a substantial increase over the six-year period," Lew told reporters.
During Bush's two terms in office, the United States pumped nearly 19 billion dollars into fighting AIDS in poor countries, saving many people who had been denied therapy that only rich economies could afford.
In 2002, Bush helped launch the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to which the United States is the biggest single contributor. In 2003, he established the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), focusing on 15 countries, mainly in Africa.
Obama has already announced the framework of his budget, but will unveil a more intricate breakdown of his spending plans on Thursday.
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