U.S. Should ‘Do A Lot More To Help Fight’ HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB Worldwide, Editorial Says
"The international AIDS community is buzzing with anxiety over unconfirmed reports that the Obama administration may hold down American financing for international AIDS programs that need greatly increased support," a New York Times editorial says, adding "We hope that the new budget blueprint to be released this week will leave enough room to grant these and other vital health programs the money they need to care for millions of sick people and to prevent the spread of additional disease around the world."
To meet the spending targets in the 2008 bill that reauthorized the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief at $48 billion over five years, Congress "would have to appropriate at least $9 billion a year," the editorial says, adding, "It fumbled. The House is poised to approve appropriations of only $4.9 billion for bilateral AIDS programs in fiscal year 2009 plus another $900 million for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria." Some advocates "fear that the Obama administration is now planning to ask for only slightly more than that for the fiscal 2010 budget and will also hold American contributions to the Global Fund well below the levels that program is seeking," the editorial says.
While recognizing that the "new administration is searching for ways to stimulate the domestic economy and slow the erosion of jobs," the editorial says that "there are strong arguments -- moral and strategic -- for why the United States should do a lot more to help fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world." Infectious diseases if left "uncontrolled" can "destabilize whole regions, especially when hunger is spreading around the globe," the editorial says, concluding, "Improving the health systems of impoverished countries would help burnish our tarnished image, and it would contribute to our security by lessening the risk of importing infectious diseases" (New York Times, 2/24).