Communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS are devastating the populations of the poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The means and medicines are available to treat HIV/AIDS and to prevent malaria and tuberculosis, but funds and health infrastructure are lacking. U.S. contributions to combat these diseases have been inadequate, given the urgent need, our country's relative wealth, and the capacity to make a real difference. We applaud the President for his announcement in the State of the Union address proposing an increase of $10 billion to stem the scourge of HIV/AIDS over the next five years.
How does global health relate to poverty? The devastation of the general population caused by major health crises destroys the fabric of communities, leaving fewer teachers, farmers, health professionals, entrepreneurs and other workers. People spend precious resources on inadequate and inconsistent healthcare, and are confronted with difficult emotional choices as resources become scarce. Children are forced to leave school to care for ill family members and manage households, and each year millions of children lose one or more of their parents to disease. The result is a deadly circle of self-reinforcing poverty.
Today there are 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Of this total, 29.4 million live in Africa, 3.2 million of them children.
Experts predict the HIV/AIDS pandemic will explode in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, India and China by the end of the decade. In 2010, these countries are expected to have an infected population of 50 to 75 million.
1 million deaths occur from malaria from each year90% of these are in Africa
About 8 million tuberculosis cases occur each year3 million in Southeast Asia and 2 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the hardest hit African nations, as many as 58% of those living with HIV/AIDS are women.
By the year 2010, there will be an estimated 25 million children left orphan because of HIV/AIDS.
How do HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases worsen the impact of the food crisis in Africa?
As Africans are confronted with a drought and severe food shortage, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are devastating the productive workforce in the agricultural sector, and rendering family farmers and breadwinners too ill to provide for their families. More than half of those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa are women, who become unable to contribute strong coping and survival skills to their families and communities confronted by drought, increased food insecurity and the real threat of starvation. In addition, because the daily caloric needs of those living with HIV/AIDS are much higher than normal, food shortages are particularly devastating to millions who are already ill. These circumstances are dramatically reducing the social capacity to respond to food and health crises, and therefore reinforce the cycle of poverty and leave people few signs of hope for the future of their families and communities.
What is the global need? $10 billion to $15 billion per year is estimated as needed to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other life-threatening communicable diseases.
What would be a fair annual U.S. contribution? $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion based upon the nation's share of the world economy.
What does the U.S. give? $1.3 billion has been requested for FY 2003, of which $300 million is earmarked for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
How does the current U.S. contribution compare to other budgetary figures? $1.3 billion is only about one-eighth of this year's estimated spending on foreign military assistance and aid supporting U.S. political and security objectives. The U.S. contribution of $1.3 billion also pales in comparison to U.S. defense spending for 2003an estimated $355 billion.
What is the impact of the President's State of the Union announcement? Based on the President's announcement, the U.S. contribution to stem the scourge of HIV/AIDS in FY 2004 would rise to $2 billion, and would reach a total contribution of $15 billion over the next five years. $10 billion of this would be new money.
How does global health relate to U.S. and international security? The United States is at risk as a major destination of travel, immigration, and commerce. U.S. civilians and military personnel abroad, especially those involved in peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, are at an increasingly high risk from infectious diseases. The predicted explosion of HIV/AIDS infections in Nigeria, Ethiopia, China, India and Russia, countries with 40% of the world's population and a combined gross national product (GNP) of more than $15 trillion, presents a serious threat to global political and economic stability. Health crises such as HIV/AIDS can be as destabilizing as a war.
Elements of a responsibly designed global health strategy
- Funding for basic healthcare delivery systems, medicines, treatment and research.
- Care for those living with communicable diseases and for children orphaned as a result of those diseases, and programs to address stigma and discrimination.
- Programs to address not only HIV/AIDS but other life-threatening communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.
- Morally responsible HIV/AIDS prevention programs providing accurate information about HIV/AIDS transmission, promoting responsible and mutually respectful relationships, and addressing cultural norms and other relevant factors.
- Activities that strengthen the economic and social viability of affected communities.
- Priority consideration for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Catholic Church commends the President for requesting major increases to fight the global scourge of HIV/AIDS, and urges Congress to:
- Support increases that would bring total funding to at least $3 billion in FY 2004 for morally responsible programs to combat HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, with particular attention to Africa.
- Incorporate the elements of a responsibly designed global health strategy (above) emphasizing a comprehensive and morally appropriate approach to the health crises in poor countries.
- to immediately introduce and support bills authorizing U.S. funding levels of at least $3 billion, with particular attention to Africa, for morally and culturally appropriate global health programs combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in FY 2004.
- to incorporate the elements listed above in the funded initiatives.
For Further Information: Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, 202-541-3149 (ph); email@example.com; or Kathy Brown, 410-625-2220 (ph), firstname.lastname@example.org.