May 6, 2009

Obama Calls For $63b In Global Health Aid

President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled new plans to provide $63 billion over six years to help the global community fight illnesses and allow for better prenatal and postnatal care.

"We cannot wall ourselves off from the world and hope for the best, nor ignore the public health challenges beyond our borders," Obama said in a statement.

"An outbreak in Indonesia can reach Indiana within days, and public health crises abroad can cause widespread suffering, conflict, and economic contraction.

"That is why I am asking Congress to approve my Fiscal Year 2010 Budget request of 8.6 billion dollars and 63 billion dollars over six years to shape a new, comprehensive global health strategy," said President Obama.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the new proposal is part of the administration's foreign policy that will improve the US' image at home and abroad. It is a continuation of efforts introduced by the administration of President George W. Bush, called the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, as a means of fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

"Our investments in programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other preventable diseases save millions of lives, reduce maternal and child mortality, and reflect our nation's leadership as a positive force for progress around the world," Clinton said.

Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew unveiled the new plans on Wednesday.

"Our announcement today exemplifies a strategy we're bringing to bear across our foreign aid programs, even as we address crises in regions with conflict, we need to make the investments necessary to prevent such crises from occurring in the future," said Lew.

"We are ramping up efforts to fight poverty, food insecurity and disease with solutions that will leave behind the tools to sustain long-term progress."

The Bush administration introduced the program in an effort to help residents of poor nations that could be more susceptible to joining terrorist groups or harboring anti-American sentiment.

Mr. Bush spent nearly $19 billion in efforts to fight AIDS in poor countries over the course of two terms.

"When we talk about development and diplomacy, we mean the United States needs to be affirmatively active dealing with some of the root causes of instability in so many poor countries," Lew said. "If people can't provide for the basic needs of their family ... it's a dangerous situation."

Obama is expected to ask for $63 billion for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins on October 1.

Under the proposal, the PEPFAR program would receive $51 billion over six years, while the other $12 billion would be spent among new programs to fight tropical disease and other health issues.


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