Modest Sums Of U.S. Foreign Aid Have Saved Lives On An 'Unprecedented Scale'

In this New York Times opinion piece, columnist Nicholas Kristof examines the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid, writing, “In this election year in the United States, there’ll be bitter debates about what should be cut from budgets, and one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is that foreign aid is bloated.” He states, “In fact, all foreign aid accounts for about one percent of federal spending — and that includes military assistance and a huge, politically driven check made out to Israel, a wealthy country that is the largest recipient of American aid.” He continues, “On my annual win-a-trip journey with a university student — this year it’s Jordan Schermerhorn of Rice University — we’ve been seeing how assistance changed the course of the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho and Malawi.”

“Global AIDS deaths are decreasing steadily from the peak in 2004,” “[n]ew infections are down,” and “[a]bout half a million mothers with HIV, which causes AIDS, used to infect their babies in childbirth each year, but now a simple treatment regimen aims to eliminate that by 2015,” Kristof notes, writing, “The progress is the result in large part of PEPFAR … and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (which the United States supports).” He cites several examples from his trip of how U.S. aid is making a difference and writes, “AIDS programs are just one of many foreign aid successes.” He concludes, “[W]hen you hear candidates in this campaign season in the United States declare that money for foreign aid should be slashed, remember that modest sums have saved lives on an unprecedented scale” (7/7).

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