Obama’s FY 2011 Budget Disappoints in Global Health, TB Programs
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged to re-engage the United States with the rest of the world and improve relations with other nations and their people. It’s now time, as president, for Obama to live up to his promises by prioritizing global health as a way not only to help the world’s poor but contribute to global development and even national security.is
Obama’s FY 2011 budget request seeks $58.5 billion for international affairs, an increase of 11.6 percent over the current fiscal year. But according to the nonprofit group ONE, when you add supplemental spending for FY 2010 to the equation the increase is just 2.8 percent — a much less rosy picture. Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan account for about 60 percent of the increase, ONE staff reported Wednesday morning. Although these countries are certainly in need of development funds, the federal government should not forget needs in other parts of the world. Even more troubling, some politicians are calling for international affairs spending to be frozen alongside select domestic programs, a fate it has so far escaped.
While the budget proposal gets high marks from development advocates on food security, global health draws mixed reviews. The increase slated for the Global Health Initiative is 9 percent to $8.5 billion. However, in May 2009, the administration pledged $63 billion over six years for the initiative — and if Congress approves the FY 2011 request, the federal government will need to significantly scale up funding in the coming years to complete the $63 billion goal and achieve the program’s stated outcomes.
Laudably, the administration is seeking to eliminate neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocersiasis (river blindness) by more than doubling funding to combat these diseases and also improve maternal and child health. But its commitments to other deadly diseases are less promising.
Most troubling, perhaps, is a $50 million cut to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. When it comes to saving lives of people affected by these three diseases and preventing future spread, the Global Fund is one of the most successful funding mechanisms currently available. As for bilateral funding for HIV/AIDS, the budget seeks only a $200 million increase to $5.74 billion, much of which will fund administrative duties, said Josh Lozman, ONE’s U.S. policy director. Meanwhile, bilateral funding for TB would see only a $5 million increase, to $251 million.
As the world’s largest economy, the United States must fulfill its role as a leader in global health. Too many of the world’s people are dying every day from preventable and treatable diseases, dampening their nations’ chances for sustainable development.
Congress must act to increase funding not only to TB programs worldwide but also to increase its contribution to the Global Fund, ramp up programs combating HIV/AIDS, and move closer to fulfilling its commitments under the Global Health Initiative. Our future depends on it.