Congress doesn’t always do things on time, but sometimes they really do get it right. Four months into the fiscal year, our lawmakers have passed a trillion dollar budget that goes a long way toward furthering American interests in global health and development.
Let’s get straight to the very good news: Congress has increased global health spending by nearly five percent for 2014. That’s a big figure in a tough economy, and it will absolutely make an impact. In fact, as a result of the increase, Congress was able to boost financial support for the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Fund, polio eradication initiatives, GAVI, and the UN children’s fund, UNICEF. It will also sustain funding for things like measles and voluntary family planning through the United Nations Population Fund.
This is a win for the millions of children and families who rely on foreign aid and our partners like the United Nations, which deliver it though lifesaving vaccines, medical care, bed nets, and more. These dollars translate to more girls who can stay in school and choose to pursue careers; more mothers and fathers who can sleep through the night knowing their infants are protected from disease-carrying mosquitos; and more children who will gain access to the most basic, lifesaving immunizations — medicines that routinely keep children healthy here in the U.S.
In fact, without these kinds of comprehensive and persistent efforts to provide immunizations, for example, we could have never reached milestones like we did last week: It has officially been two years since India reported a single case of polio – remarkable progress for a country which just four years ago contributed majorly to the global polio case count.
These investments make a world of sense — but no matter how logical or vital or necessary, we shouldn’t take for granted how tough they are to fit in a budget that has many, many demands upon it. This spending package was not perfect — and there are still some foreign affairs challenges that we’ll need to address to strengthen U.S. interests abroad in the next budget.
Nonetheless, the appropriators who draft the bill each year must crunch ever more difficult numbers, and do their best to promote American interests at home and abroad. With this measure, Congress and the Administration have mostly achieved that goal. We look forward to continuing our work to maintain the successes that will be enacted in 2014 and to improve upon that gaps that remain for in 2015.
And for all of you who contacted your Representatives and Senators to speak up for supporting these vital programs over the past year — your work clearly paid off. Thank you, and keep it up so that we can continue these successes into 2015 and beyond!
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