As we await two vital tidbits of news on global health funding—one from the White House and one from Capitol Hill—there’s a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that helps put the battle for more money into perspective.
The Kaiser report–a concise outline and history of US global health policy and spending–shows that spending on global health has significantly increased in recent years, hitting $9.6 billion in 2008, more than double the 2004 spending level. But that is a tiny fraction–less than 1 percent–of the federal budget. And while the US is the single largest donor for international health assistance in low- and middle-income countries, it lags behind when ranked according to country GDPs. By that mark, the Netherlands was #1 and the US was #10. Click here for the Kaiser report.
It’s a good backdrop as we press lawmakers and the Obama administration to live up to their commitments on global health.
We keep hearing that the economic crisis will force President Obama to renege on his global-health campaign promises, such as the vow he made to increase PEPFAR spending by $1 billion a year. The White House instead reportedly plans to call for level funding for PEPFAR.
But that would be a disastrous setback in the fight against global AIDS and TB and it would cost us dearly in the long run.
Obama is likely to release his specific request for global health funding in early May. Key lawmakers in Congress could set a figure for international affairs spending, the source of most global health money, in the coming days. We need to make it clear that we can’t afford NOT to provide robust global health funding at this critical moment in the battle against HIV/AIDS and TB.