Spending Bill Recognizes Crucial Global Health Goals
The 2019 spending bill passed by the House and Senate Thursday that the President has announced he will sign, reflects a meaningful commitment to moving our country forward and to continued U.S. leadership of the fight against the world’s most devastating infectious disease killers. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association advocated strongly for, and applaud, these decisive steps.
With an increase of $50 million over fiscal year 2018 funding, the approval of $4.37 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is the first increase the flagship U.S. global HIV program has received in five years. Adding substance to the President’s promise to “defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” the increase will be essential to supporting the expanded testing, treatment and prevention services needed to sustainably end the global health threat of HIV. Domestically, the $18 million increase in funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program is important, given the role of stable housing to successful health outcomes for patients with HIV.
The additional $41 million in the bill for USAID’s global tuberculosis program will support critical commitments led by the United States at last year’s United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB. Representing a nearly 16 percent increase, the funding will enable the accelerated efforts needed to find and treat the estimated 4 million people sick with tuberculosis now going undiagnosed each year, and will arm the fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Legislators also have taken an important step in committing resources to preventing, detecting and controlling infectious diseases of pandemic potential where they originate. Increasing base funding for USAID’s global health security activities from last year’s $72.5 million to $100 million lays a foundation for the sustained funding needed to strengthen laboratory, surveillance and health system capacities in resource-limited countries. This will be essential to identifying and controlling infectious disease threats that include Ebola and Zika. The bill, however, continues to flat-fund malaria elimination efforts at USAID, even as high-burden countries in Africa and South America report increases in cases after two decades of decline, and while rising rates of resistance to malaria drugs threatens progresses achieved.
IDSA and HIVMA will continue to urge Congress to sustain increases in global HIV and TB programs and to increase funding for malaria and global health security efforts for fiscal year 2020.