Funding for global health programs holds steady while biomedical research enjoys funding boost in final FY 2017 spending bill

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Seven months into the fiscal year, the House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill to fund government programs through September, and rejected the Trump Administration’s recommended cuts to global health funding. The Senate is expected to pass the massive spending measure by the end of the week and the President has indicated he will sign the bill into law, avoiding a potential government shutdown.

Fiscal year 2017 funding for global health will remain roughly equal to fiscal year 2016 levels, with some programs receiving small increases. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s global tuberculosis program received a $5 million increase over fiscal year 2016 funding for a total of $241 million. Programs to combat malaria received an additional $81 million for a total of $755 million. Funding for USAID’s maternal and child health programs also saw an increase of $64.5 million, of which $40 million is for GAVI, the vaccine alliance. The bill also includes $990 million in emergency funding for famine relief efforts in northern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Of the $8.7 billion dedicated to global health in the omnibus bill, $5.67 billion is for global HIV programs, which is level with fiscal year 2016 funding. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief will receive $4.32 billion while the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will receive $1.35 billion, fulfilling the U.S. commitment to the Fund.

Global health security efforts saw an increase with an additional $70 for an emergency reserve fund to respond to global health threats, but such funding “may only be made available if, prior to obligation, the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations it is in the national interest to respond to an emerging health threat that poses severe threats to human health.” USAID will also receive $72.5 million for other global health security efforts to respond to pandemic influenza and other threats. The Trump Administration had proposed eliminating funding for USAID’s global health security efforts in a list of fiscal year 2017 proposed budget reductions that emerged last month.

The funding bill includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, with a $277 million increase for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and an increase of $1.76 million for the Fogarty International Center. The six percent increase for NIH came on the heels of an Administration proposed NIH cut of $1.2 billion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will receive an additional $5 million for global polio eradication efforts and an additional $3 million for the CDC’s Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response program. The bill directs these additional funds to be “used to support existing longitudinal, population-based infectious disease platforms that enable comparative analysis between urban and rural populations in the developing world.”

With fiscal year 2017 wrapped up, the Administration is expected to release their fiscal year 2018 budget proposal in the next few weeks. According to leaked documents published by Foreign Policy, this proposal is likely to propose substantial cuts to foreign aid and to global health.

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