Obama's opening salvo on global health

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There were no nitty-gritty details about global health funding in the budget blueprint President Obama released Thursday. But we can do a little tea-leaf reading from the big-picture numbers.

 

The White House asked for $51.7 billion to fund the State Department and other international programs, an increase of about $4.5 billion over the fiscal year 2009 appropriation.

 

The White House says this first Obama budget will put us “on a path” to doubling foreign assistance and that the administration would “continue to build” on a commitment to increase funding for global health programs.  And PEPFAR did get a mention.

 

Here’s the most relevant snipet:

 

Increase funding for Global health Programs.

Boosting the quality of health around

the world is not only a moral consideration; it is

also in the country’s interest as pandemics and

poor health care can destabilize whole regions

as well as travel around the globe. In the Budget,

the United States will continue to build on

its commitment to save lives through increasing

investments in global health programs, including

in areas such as maternal and child health,

family planning and other core health programs,

while also emphasizing a commitment to HIV/

AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis through successful

programs such as the President’s Emergency

Plan for AIDS relief and the Malaria Initiative.

In addition, together with our multilateral partners,

the Administration will continue to provide

global leadership to improve the health status of

the world’s poorest populations.

 

Sounds good, right? Yes, but as the Center’s David Bryden points out, the language “on a path” is vague at best. “At this rate, when would we get there?” he asks. “An extra $4.5 billion would not go very far, when divvied up among dozens of competing programs.”

 

And this morning, the New York Times writes that Obama advisers “may be rethinking other foreign priorities like global health — in particular the signature program of Mr. Obama’s predecessor, former President George W. Bush, to increase financing to fight the global AIDS epidemic.” The Times attributes that to Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategy and International Studies. Click here to read the Times’ piece, which doesn’t offer many specifics.  

 

There’s still a window to influence the Obama administration’s spending request on global health programs. Help us make the case for more funding!

 

We’d love to hear from you about how a budget shortfall would affect your work: HIV or TB patients who won’t get treatment? Promising new drugs that won’t be brought to trial? Improved diagnostic tools that will stay on the shelf?

 

Email me at dshesgreen@idsociety.org with any stories that we can use to advocate in Washington for more global TB & HIV funds.

 

And for another take, click here to read what Tom Hart, of the One Campaign, had to say about Obama’s budget.

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