Obama Should Promote, Invest More In PMI To Gain Votes

Leading up to the debates this month and the November presidential election, “President Obama would be wise to talk up our effective aid programs and the soft power they provide with regional allies,” particularly the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Roger Bate, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, and Kimberly Hess, a researcher with Africa Fighting Malaria, write in a New York Daily News opinion piece. “Pointing to the enormous success of this program — and announcing a budget increase — would score valuable points with swing voters and potentially even help Democrats pull some of them off the fence,” they write. Seven years after former President George W. Bush launched PMI, the program “stands among the most effective government programs in recent history — and a rare, genuinely bipartisan foreign policy achievement,” the authors state, noting “under-five mortality rates have declined by 16-50 percent in 11 PMI target countries in which surveys have been conducted.”

“PMI uses every weapon available to fight the disease: gold-standard drugs, protective bed nets and insecticide-spraying programs, including those that use DDT”; “only purchases top-of-the-line malaria drugs”; and “conduct[s] quality control tests to weed out counterfeits and substandard drugs,” Bate and Hess write. “The fact that PMI was one of President George W. Bush’s most celebrated achievements would not be lost on compassionate conservatives, nor on moderates who believe in the power of aid,” they say, adding “the extra measures to ensure drug quality for American aid recipients would also resonate.” The authors continue, “By making these points during the debates, President Obama could show voters that he makes policy based on what works, not what is politically expedient” and “could cement their support by announcing increased funding for the PMI.” They conclude, “Putting more money into the PMI wouldn’t just be a political boon — it would actually help us save lives in Africa” (10/3).