U.S. politicians continue to speak out boldly in favor of increased global health funding.
Last week, 100 House members joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) in sending a letter to President Obama encouraging him to make a three-year commitment of at least $6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Rep. Howard Berman, the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Rep. Henry Waxman, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, were among the signers.
The letter is being sent in the run-up to the replenishment meeting which will take place Oct. 4-5, 2010 in New York. At that meeting, most donors are expected to announce their pledges for the period 2011-2013. Civil society activists have set up a website dedicated to the issues surrounding the replenishment.
Rep. Lee, who has been one of the most important champions in the U.S. Congress on HIV/AIDS and global health issues, stated, “Last week I attended the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna to learn about the current state of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and get a sense of how our collective response to is working. There’s a lot of concern in the international community that we are not providing the necessary funding to meet our promises to combat this disease. This letter sends a strong message to the President that we are ready to stand with him and make a strong commitment to the global fight by providing $6 billion for the Global Fund over the next three years.”
Other countries have also been urged to give more. For instance, Austria’s poor record of contributions to the Fund was recently the subject of strong criticism by Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS & Rights Alliance of Southern Africa in the opening session at the International AIDS Conference last month.
The letter reads in part:
“Many Global Fund donors look to the United States when determining their contributions. Providing a three-year pledge of $6 billion would leverage additional resources from other donors and send a very important signal to other countries that the U.S. is committed to working with its international partners to combat these three diseases.
Finally, we recognize that multi-year pledges must also include caveats that indicate that any funding would be subject to yearly Congressional appropriations. However, we strongly believe that it is in the best interest of the United States to make a multi-year pledge in order to leverage funding from other donors and gain additional support as we work to empower countries.”