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US Government Urged to Maintain Global Health Spending

A patient with tuberculosis sits on a bed in 'Tuberculosis Village,' a separate health facility at a clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, in the town of Nasir in southeastern Sudan. Along with malaria, tuberculosis is one of the lead
A patient with tuberculosis sits on a bed in 'Tuberculosis Village,' a separate health facility at a clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, in the town of Nasir in southeastern Sudan. Along with malaria, tuberculosis is one of the lead
Joe DeCapua

Health-related groups are warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Global Health Technologies Coalition – made up of 40 groups – has released a new report outlining its concerns. The report is being presented to members of congress and the Obama administration. The two are wrangling over spending cuts made more complicated by election year politics.

Spending paid off

“When it comes to global public health we’re really in an era of unprecedented scientific breakthroughs. We’ve seen some incredible progress that’s been made over the past few years…that has the potential to really transform the way that we approach some of the greatest global health challenges. And part of that has been leadership by the U.S. government,” said Kaitlin Christianson, coalition director.

There has been bipartisan support for global health programs.

“We think it’s in important that even in these constrained budgetary times U.S. policymakers not lose sight of that commitment and that goal of saving lives around the world,” said. Christianson, who described any cuts to the programs as an “incredible loss.”

The coalition director praised the proposed Obama budget for its continued support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the GAVI Alliance, which is a public/private partnership concentrating on child immunizations.

“However, there are some cuts that have been made to other programs, including programming for neglected tropical diseases…malaria and AIDS that are concerning. So our hope is that congress will restore funding for those programs.

Technology’s role

Christianson said many of the health gains could not have been made without advances in technology.

“The Global Health Technologies Coalition is looking at ways in which we can advance the development of new vaccines…new diagnostics…new drugs and other biomedical technologies that will combat global health diseases…. And for many of the diseases that exist there are not sufficient interventions,” she said.

Christianson said taxpayers are benefitting from global health spending because many American companies and universities are involved. Also, she said opinion polls show that most Americans support such programs.

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