US Global Health Policy

U.S. Global Health Policy

Last week, the House of Representatives cut the international affairs budget by 20% of the FY 2010 levels. While these are tough times, these cuts are disappointing given investments made in international affairs account for only 1 percent of the overall US Government budget.  More plainly, these cuts affect the poorest and most vulnerable people around the globe.

A recent poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org/Knowledge Networks showed that most Americans support foreign assistance levels up to 10% of the budget.

Furthermore, such small cuts in spending will not solve the deficit problem. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued that investments made in development and diplomacy can help deter future needs for resources for defense and that America’s national security depends on the civilian diplomats and aid workers who also risk their lives every day to support our overseas interests.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

As world leaders gather next week at the U.N. to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015, a new integrated approach to funding and delivering health services in developing countries is critical if the UN's global health targets -- especially for women and children -- are to be met. Currently, the health goals are competing with each other for money, people, and other scarce resources. How can we get back on track?

There is much to celebrate next week: over four million people are currently receiving antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS; eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV is within reach by 2015; malaria deaths have been reduced by over half in some countries; the global burden of TB is falling; and more than 500 million people are now treated for one or more neglected tropical diseases.

At the Global Health Council Conference, I attended an interesting event, “Impact of Schistosomiasis and Polyparasitic Infections on Anemia, Growth and Physical Fitness in Children in Coastal Kenya” presented by  Dr. Amaya Bustinduy of Case Western Reserve University which focused on neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

Schistosomiasis remains one of the most serious and prevalent neglected tropical diseases worldwide.  According to Bustinduy, the WHO estimated that there are 235 million cases of schistosomiasis with 732 million to be at risk for contraction. 89% of  all cases live in the less-developed areas of rural sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

Schistosomiasis is associated with diseases such as anemia, growth impairment in children, and mental retardation.  The focus of Dr. Bustinduy’s ongoing study in Kenya is to “address those morbidities as part of a larger study examining the ecology of transmission of Schistosomiasis.”

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