Africa Action responds to the Obama administration's FY10 detailed budget release

from Africa Action
Published on 07 May 2009
Preliminary Analysis Shows U.S. Under-Funding AIDS Programs

Thursday, May 07, 2009 (Washington, DC) - This morning the President Obama released the detailed fiscal year 2010 budget information on U.S. bilateral AIDS programs and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. According to preliminary analysis by Africa Action, the U.S. will be under-funding life-saving HIV/AIDS initiatives in Africa.

Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action said today, "The President is well-intentioned; however, more resources must be provided for a comprehensive and effective global health strategy. Without adequate funding for HIV/AIDS initiatives, the U.S. will forgo long-term savings in cases where we fail to prevent infections, and instead must place an increasing number of people on treatment."

In July of 2008 Congress authorized $48 billion for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Over five years, the goal was to treat at least 3 million people with HIV, preventing 12 million new infections, caring for 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children. It was also set to train and retain at least 140,000 new health workers.

To accomplish these goals PEPFAR would need $9 billion in 2010, but according to the new budget released today, it is only receiving $4.5 billion (a 2% increase from 2009).

The FY2010 budget was revealed just days after the White House announced a new six-year "Global Health Initiative". Many people have already falsely suggested that funding for PEPFAR will be sustainable in light of the new Global Health Initiative, but Africa Action has found that either PEPFAR will not reach its target goals due to lower levels of funding in the five years authorized or in 2014 many health programs will essentially stop because of a lack of resources.

The plan allocates $51 billion for PEPFAR and Malaria, but over six years rather than five. If PEPFAR were fully funded at $48 billion, that would leave only $3 billion available in the budget for 2014.

Based on estimates on the total funding needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child mortality, the U.S. needs to contribute $24 billion over six years. The Global Health Initiative announced by the administration includes only $12 billion for all non-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria "global health priorities."

Michael Stulman, Associate Director for Policy and Communications warns, "Millions of lives could be unnecessarily lost because the U.S. will not fully fund AIDS programs. In the long run, a scale back in funding will result in a greater need for foreign assistance, and inequalities that will increase conflict over resources." Stulman adds, "People with HIV/AIDS need higher quality and more affordable medications for treatment. The U.S. has a responsibility to support global health priorities that can achieve this."

Equally susceptible to this funding shortfall is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund needs $2.7 billion to prevent cuts to lifesaving grants, but according to the budget released this morning it has received exactly what it got last year - $900 million.

Announcements to short-change the Global Fund come just one day after the spring meeting in Geneva where the Board of Directors agreed to enhance the Fund's response to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

Africa Action welcomes this decision by the Board of Directors.

"By investing in reproductive health, the Global Fund is opening the opportunity to eliminate HIV/AIDS," said LeMelle. "But unfortunately, the announcement came just before the White House announced it would turned its back on past promises made. President Obama needs to fulfill his commitment and ensure that the U.S. provides its fair share to the Global Fund."

Africa Action calls on the United States to contribute its proportionate share to the Global Fund by appropriating $2.7 billion in 2010, and an additional $1 billion in 2009.