Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FYI: Obama's Global Health Plan

Obama recently unveiled his plans for US efforts in global health, and it's got everyone's blood going. On Tuesday he made known his plans to expand upon Bush's efforts for AIDS relief with a comprehensive global health proposal that not only encompasses AIDS but also tropical diseases and other preventable illnesses that cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Titled the Global Health Initiative, the proposal calls for the spending of $63 billion over the next six years, spending that would go into expanding Bush's Pepfar (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) as well as fighting tuberculosis and malaria.

While this seems like a big amount (and it is), it depends on how you look at it. Activists unhappy with the plan call the spending a meager increase; looking at year by year, the spending for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined will only be increased by $366 million; Obama originally promised 1 billion dollars annually for AIDS in his campaign. Furthermore, the diseases that don't fall under these three only receive about a fifth of the spending increase; sadly, this seems to continue the trend of neglecting tropical and preventative disease.

It's nice to see that Obama recognizes that we need to allocate more resources to addressing global health problems; his underwhelming spending increases, however, will barely make a dent in these problems and reinforce the neglect of other major diseases affecting health on a global scale. Maybe he's doing the best he can, with the humongous federal deficit and the war on his hands. But we spend so much more for the war in a single day...surely some reallocation is in order. Regardless, an increase is an increase -- hopefully this is a sign of better things to come from the Obama administration, specifically more substancial resources to address global health.

Ok, I'm off the soapbox. Links below:

NYT article
activist views

-Andrew Plan

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