Why global health investments are key to ‘Making America Great’
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Many in the global health community have been anxiously awaiting the details of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 18 budget this week. 

Following the release of his proposed “skinny budget” in March, advocates and implementers feared the worst. The message from his Administration was clear: foreign assistance funding would be rolled back dramatically. 

Important global initiatives would end in favor of defense spending, and the U.S. would abdicate its vital leadership role in international development.

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Earlier this week, after months of rumors and worry, we see how global health has fared. In total, the Administration proposed a staggering one-third cut to U.S. foreign assistance including a 26 percent reduction in global health funding at USAID and the State Department, as well as an almost 20 percent cut to global health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

This includes critical commitments and contributions to the United Nations that support international health and development. In some cases, they recommend the elimination of entire initiatives or programs, including family planning assistance and the Fogarty International Center at National Institutes of Health. If these cuts are applied as proposed, it would fundamentally change the global health landscape as we have come to know it over the past 15 years, and that would be devastating.

Now is not the time to withdraw our global health investments. We stand at a pivotal moment, one where we have realized substantial progress over the past decade.

Decreased U.S. funding will undoubtedly result in significant setbacks, making us lose ground on epidemics we can’t afford to ignore.

These cuts, if enacted, would rob us of an important, successful American legacy.

Longstanding initiatives that combat infectious diseases, help children thrive, and build resilient health systems have saved both lives and dollars over time. They have enjoyed bipartisan support and are one of few surviving examples of what U.S. policymakers can achieve despite their differences.

We have done the right thing by doing good in the world in a way that also has served our own citizens.

To walk away from that now is a betrayal of our shared core values. 

And Congress agrees. 

The most encouraging aspect of budget news has been the response of elected officials that the White House’s draconian proposals are essentially “dead on arrival.”

Let’s hope that proves true, because we all will be looking to our champions on the Hill to stand up and speak out in defense of this critical work and the consequences we will likely face by letting it go. Thousands have contacted their congressional representatives in support of global health funding, and key leaders across military, faith, and business communities have been vocal about the value of foreign assistance.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) said, “At a time when American leadership is needed more than ever, we must continue to invest in the International Affairs Budget.”

This includes investments in global health. We know global health works. It averts deaths, builds economies, and benefits America.

Investment in global health is one of the best displays of American greatness we have demonstrated as a country.

Let’s continue to show our strength in ways that matter and serve us well.

Loyce Pace is the President and Executive Director of Global Health Council, a U.S.-based membership organization representing the collective voice of the global health community worldwide. Global Health Council publishes comprehensive consensus recommendations and impact stories now available online called, “Global Health Works: Maximizing U.S. Investments for Healthier and Stronger Communities.”


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.