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 are inadequate, given the urgent need, our country's relative wealth, and the capacity to make a real difference.
Today there are 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Of this total, 28.1 million live in Africa, 2.4 million of them children.
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. It also leaves millions of orphans without the support of adult family members upon whom they depend. The result is a deadly circle of self-reinforcing poverty.
The Catholic Church urges Congress to:
- Support a substantial increase in funding to address global health crisesas much as an additional $1 billion-$1.5 billion is needed for responsibly designed global health and anti-poverty programs
- Incorporate the elements of a responsibly designed global health strategy (below) emphasizing a comprehensive and morally appropriate approach to the health crises in poor countries.
- Limit debt service payments to five percent of government revenues for countries with severe health crises, such as an HIV/AIDS adult infection rate of four percent or more.
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 does the U.S. give? $1 billion for FY 2002, of which $200 million is earmarked for the United Nations Global Health Fund for HIV/AIDS and other infectious 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.
How does the current U.S. contribution compare to other budgetary figures? It pales in comparison to spending on other aspects of world security. For example, $1 billion is about one-eighth of last year's estimated spending on foreign military assistance and aid supporting U.S. political and security objectives.
How does global health relate to U.S. security? The United States is at risk as a major destination of travel, immigration, and commerce. Also, U.S. civilians and military personnel abroad, especially those involved in peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, are at an increasingly high risk from infectious diseases. In the globalized world, the destabilization of other nations or regions threatens American and international security. Health crises such as HIV/AIDS can be as destabilizing as a war. Local capabilities for maintaining security and order are weakened and socioeconomic progress is delayed, challenging democratic development and transitions.
What is the link between debt relief and global health? Debt service payments take funds away from other critical needs. Where diseases such as HIV/AIDS have reached crisis proportions, there is a desperate need to maximize resources available for health systems, infrastructure and treatment.
H.R. 2069, co-sponsors Reps. Hyde (R-IL) and Lantos (D-CA), would authorize $1.36 billion, of which $750 million would be for the UN Global Health Fund.
Passed by House, no action in Senate.
Addresses many of the elements listed on the previous page for a responsibly designed global health strategy. USCCB/CRS encourages the direction of this legislation.
Other legislation of interest is in the process of being drafted. Updates will be given as legislation becomes available.
For Further Information:
Frances Horner, 202-541-3153 (ph); 202-541-3339 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org