Increases in Funding to Fight
Global Health Crises and Poverty in 2004
January 22, 2004
Thank you for all your great advocacy and hard work on these issues! Today, as a result, the Senate gave final approval for major increases in funding to fight AIDS and infectious diseases, as well as significant new money for poor countries through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). The House had approved these increases in early December. The foreign aid bill, passed as part of the 2004 Omnibus appropriations bill, marks a significant victory for our development assistance priorities and contains the largest increase in developmental and civilian foreign aid programs in four decades! The final bill also contains authorization for the MCA, and helps ensure a more effective and morally appropriate global health program. Your hard work has made these funding increases to fight AIDS and poverty in the poorest countries a reality.
Over the past year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in partnership with grassroots networks, have advocated for a minimum of $18.8BN for the 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, including $3BN to fight HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and $1.3BN for the MCA.
We also urged Congress to protect those provisions in the Global AIDS Act (P.L. 108-25) which seek a more effective and morally appropriate global health program, including the emphasis on abstinence and fidelity within marriage as part of prevention education, and the conscience clause.1 With regard to the MCA, we urged that MCA funds be reserved for the poorest countries which have the fewest options for accessing financial assistance. We urged that the criteria for MCA eligibility be flexible enough to allow a substantial number of African countries to participate. In addition, we strongly encouraged that MCA language emphasize poverty reduction and support national development strategies designed with input from civil society. (See the November 10 letter from Bishop John Ricard, Chairman of the Committee on International Policy, and Ken Hackett, Director of Catholic Relief Services, to Senate and House Conferees).
For more information:
Gerry Flood, Policy Adviser, USCCB (202-541-3167; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jennifer Holst, USCCB (202-541-3199; email@example.com)
Tina Rodousakis, Legislative Network Specialist, 1-800-235-2772 x 7462, Trodousa@catholicrelief.org
Kathy Brown, Community Engagement Director, 1-800-235-2772 x 7232, Kbrown@catholicrelief.org
* The conscience clause provision ensures that religious organizations, such as Catholic Relief Services-who are the principal providers of care and treatment for those who have or are affected by HIV/AIDS-will not be discriminated against in the allocation of aid funds on the basis of religious or moral convictions.