Why it is important to keep funding global health initiatives like President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

To the Editor:

The Trump administration is proposing to cut diplomacy and foreign aid budgets by 37 percent. This will impact the budgets of both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Foreign development assistance for initiatives dealing with global health, climate change and women’s issues will likely take the biggest hit.

The idea is to spend less money overseas and more of it here in the U.S. and cutting the Foreign Affairs Budget would make sense if it made up a substantial part of the budget. But the Foreign Affairs Budget makes up less than 1 percent of the U.S. Federal Budget.

While job creation in America should be of the highest priority it may not be doable by isolating the U.S. from the rest of the world. America’s prosperity is directly linked to the global economy. More than half of U.S. exports go to the developing world and it is critical to grow these markets in order to create jobs at home.

Just as the U.S. economy is linked to global markets, so are we part of a global health system. As we have seen in the last few years with the Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks, infectious diseases do not care about borders. By strengthening healthcare systems around the world we are stopping infectious diseases before they spread out of control and relieving suffering.

U.S. Government led global health programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are effectively addressing important health issues around the world and saving millions of lives. By helping developing countries to deal with their most important disease burdens and strengthening healthcare systems they are more capable of dealing with infectious diseases epidemics that could threaten global health.

It is not an either-or situation; more should be done to improve the lives of all Americans, but more can also be done to improve lives around the world.

Helena Jacobs