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Advocates Call For Increased U.S. Investment In Global Health

A report released Thursday (.pdf) by a group of global health advocates outlines ways the U.S. can work toward increasing access to health care throughout the world, Inter Press Service reports. They call “for doubling U.S. aid to global health projects from the current level of nearly eight billion dollars a year to 16 billion by 2011,” followed by “annual increase[s] leading to a six-year total investment of 95 billion dollars.”

This exceeds by $32 billion President Barack Obama’s six-year, $63 billion global health initiative proposed as part of his FY 2010 budget, according to the news service. Much of this additional funding would go to ensuring a health care work force that can implement the programs. according to IPS.

“Among the goals the report lays out as achievable and which it says U.S. efforts can ensure by 2014 are 35 million more births in facilities that can handle both normal and complicated births, quality prenatal care for 40 million more women, quality postnatal care for 35 million more women and newborns, and access to modern family planning for 10 million more couples,” IPS writes. Additionally, the report calls for continued investments in efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and highlights the need for a U.S. global health initiative to contribute to supporting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals and neglected tropical diseases.

Asia Russell of Health GAP, one of the 25 organizations that authored the report, described the findings as being “very much in the grasp of this administration, but require additional funding which in turn can leverage funding from other donors.”

“Part of the real problem is how to develop an effective workforce[,] because if you’re going to deal with child and maternal welfare you’re going to need physicians,” Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said during a conference call. “You can’t deliver tuberculosis treatment under the [WHO’s recommended] directly observed therapy programme unless you have people to do that” (Berger, 10/29).

VOA News reports that the advocates support Obama’s global health initiative, but question whether the funding levels proposed by the administration are enough. “There’s clear evidence to show that with these funding levels the global initiative itself will not be able to achieve success,” Russell said. McDermott said of the administration’s proposed funding levels, “It’s a quarter of one percent of the GDP of this country. So, we’re not making that big of a commitment and I hope that we can go much larger” (De Capua, 10/30).