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Opinions: U.S. Aid For Haiti Delays; U.S. Medical Education Initiative

Sen. Coburn On Haiti Aid Delays

In a Washington Examiner opinion piece, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) writes about U.S. aid to Haiti and addresses allegations that he is holding up funding: “The situation in Haiti is confusing, but there are some things we know. First, we know that immediately after the earthquake the United States responded quickly and compassionately with aid and relief. According to USAID, we have spent at least $1.1 billion in Haiti already. We also know that in July of this year Congress passed and President Obama signed into law an emergency supplemental bill that included $1 billion for Haiti.”

According to Coburn, the State Department has “done nothing for 10 weeks,” despite having the authority to move the funds passed in the supplemental. “Contrary to various news reports, the bill I expressed concerns about at the end of the session had nothing to do with our current mission. The bill in question, sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., would authorize $500 million for next year,” Coburn writes.

There are two reasons why he did not “fast-track the $500 million Kerry bill through the unanimous consent or ‘hotline’ process,” according to Coburn. “First, it is grossly irresponsible for Congress to authorize or appropriate any new spending when we have a $13.6 trillion national debt that is strangling our economy. … Second, it is irresponsible to wait until the last minute to try to fast-track costly and duplicative legislation no one has read,” Coburn argues. He concludes: “When Congress reconvenes, we can do the right thing and pass Haiti legislation in a responsible way. … I would ask my colleagues: What would you sacrifice to help the people of Haiti? Surely Congress can agree that something in our $3.7 trillion budget is less important than helping Haiti recover from this terrible tragedy. Leadership requires choices and sacrifices. The people of Haiti, and the world, are watching and waiting” (10/20).

VOA News Editorial Highlights 5-Year, $130M Medical Education Initiative

A VOA News editorial by the U.S. government describes the U.S. effort to “invest $130 million over the next 5 years to transform African medical education and increase the number of health care workers on the continent.” It also aims to expand research capacity in Africa.

The Medical Education Partnership Initiative, PEPFAR and HHS “are awarding grants to thirteen African institutions in 12 countries. These institutions will work in partnership with about 30 African organizations and 20 U.S. medical schools to train health care personnel in various medical skills, including surgery, childbirth and infant care,” the editorial states. This initiative is responding to a “great need in sub-Saharan Africa, which bears 24 percent of the world’s disease burden, but has just 3 percent of the world’s health workforce.”

The editorial includes a quote from President Barack Obama’s speech at the recent Millennium Development Goal summit. “The purpose of development is creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed,” Obama said. “So we will seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people” (10/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.