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Opinions: U.S. Commitment To Global Fund; Innovative Financing; Global Food Security; Aid For Pakistan

U.S. Global Fund Commitment

  • A Times of Trenton editorial looks at the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is “estimated to have already saved 5 million lives, enables programs that prevent and treat infections, eliminate the transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their unborn children, contain the threat of multidrug-resistant TB, and eliminate malaria as a public health problem.”

After highlighting the “admirably efficient and life-saving work” of the Global Fund, the editorial states that “a U.S. commitment of $2 billion annually for three years [would be] a prudent move. By using the multilateral approach of the Global Fund, the United States has the power to leverage its contributions – and its effectiveness. Because every dollar the United States contributes to the Global Fund is matched by other donors 2-1, this country has the opportunity to continue leading the world toward eradicating these diseases” (9/8).

  • A Los Angeles Times editorial examines criticisms of President Barack Obama’s HIV/AIDS efforts: “The critics aren’t wrong, but they aren’t entirely right either.” The editorial looks at the Global Health Initiative and how Obama’s “2011 budget dramatically increased spending on maternal and child health and malaria programs, but it also called for cutting the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund by $50 million, to $1 billion, and raising the budget for bilateral HIV/AIDS programs by just 3.6%.”

The editorial continues: “Neither Obama nor his predecessor showed due respect for the Global Fund, which is more efficient than most bilateral aid programs because its money goes directly to health systems in poor countries rather to than expensive U.S. contractors. … The president should commit to generous annual funding increases to the Global Fund from now on” (9/7).

  • A San Francisco Chronicle editorial asserts that “[s]ince taking office – and facing a crushing recession – Obama has moved slowly in the AIDS fight. While still spending billions, Obama hasn’t increased budgets as he once pledged,” including to the Global Fund. Though “[t]he money is important,” so too “is Obama’s leadership. Under Global Fund rules, other industrialized countries will double what Washington puts in. … His words and actions carry weight, with the power to push other governments to action – or inaction,” the newspaper writes.

“The showdown is the latest test of Obama’s resolve on AIDS pledges. No question, he’s committed, but to what degree?” the editorial asks, concluding that “Obama has a chance to make a clear and unequivocal message. This country must continue to lead in battling AIDS both overseas and at home” (9/7).

Innovative Financing Mechanisms Can Help Fund Development

The global economic crisis has had “devastating” effects on the developing world and “threatens to return millions of people to the extreme poverty from which they had just managed to escape,” particularly in Africa, writes UNITAID Chair Philippe Douste-Blazy in a Starbroek News guest feature. The article examines the impact the crisis has had during a “time of the first glimmerings of progress, notably in health care. Since 2000, the rate of people dying from AIDS has declined, child-killing diseases like malaria and measles are being tackled more effectively, universal primary education is inching forward, and the targets for safe drinking water are in sight.”

A U.N. report warns that investment from developed countries “is falling $35 billion short of the $150 billion goal,” according to Douste-Blazy. The crisis is lessening their ability to fulfill commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and has increased the “number of people going hungry and in extreme poverty.”  

“Innovative financing mechanisms offer the means to tap incrementally into global financial flows without disrupting economic activity,” the author writes, citing UNITAID, a drug purchasing program “funded largely through a small fee added to airline tickets, which has raised $1.5 billion since 2007.” He concludes that world leaders should “endorse” similar mechanisms at this month’s MDG summit (9/7).

Donor Countries Must Act To Prevent ‘Food Crisis’ From Escalating

“A second food crisis in as many years is a wake-up call,” a Financial Times editorial states. “The parallels with the last crisis should not be overstated,” the newspaper cautions, adding, “Despite the recent spike in wheat, food prices are still well below the peaks they reached in early 2008. … If we did not have the baleful example of 2007-08, this would already be a significant crisis. Coming so soon after the last one, it is call to action. It would be irresponsible to expect the benign conditions of the past to return.”

“Things can be done. Most importantly, there is a need for greater investment in irrigation and other measures to improve land quality as well as crop resilience. Developed countries have focused too much on food aid rather than providing development assistance,” the Financial Times writes before recommending actions to be taken. “Bigger reserves will probably be needed, as will international rules to clear up the circumstances under which countries can suspend agricultural exports,” the editorial states.

“This will take more than fine words. The financial crisis has squeezed aid budgets. It is never easy to reach multilateral trade agreements. But as recent events have demonstrated, the L’Aquila agenda is as important as ever,” the editorial concludes (9/5).

Americans Must Help With Pakistani Flood Relief Efforts

“The U.S. government, both civilian and military, was the first international responder,” James Baker, a former U.S. secretary of state, writes in a Houston Chronicle opinion piece about aid for the floods in Pakistan. “But we cannot and should not expect the government to respond to this unprecedented natural disaster alone,” Baker writes.

“Donations from private Americans, corporations, foundations, church groups and service organizations played a significant role in the relief and reconstruction of the nations slammed by the tsunami in late 2004 and the earthquakes that struck Pakistan and Haiti. Yet, to date, private contributions from America for the floods in Pakistan have only trickled in,” he notes. “Experts are debating why private giving for the flood disaster is low. … But Pakistanis can’t wait. They need our immediate help to start rebuilding their lives as soon as possible.”

Before outlining how Americans can make donations for flood relief, Baker writes: “Successive U.S. administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have committed the country to a strong partnership with Pakistan. It is in America’s best interest to assist Pakistan in the struggle against insurgent groups that operate in tribal areas, project terror into Afghanistan and sow fear throughout Pakistan itself with regular terrorist attacks. Americans benefit from a partnership with the Pakistani people that is founded on moral and humanitarian grounds. But there are other reasons for Americans to assist Pakistan’s recovery, including our long history of care and generosity that people across the globe admire and respect” (9/2).

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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.