Global Health Advocates Aren't Impressed With Budget Plan

Jon is a staff writer for Science.

The budget proposal unveiled yesterday by President Barack Obama is getting negative reviews from some public health advocates. In particular, they say the Global Health Initiative, which targets HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and neglected diseases, is slated for roughly a $300 million cut to about $8.5 billion.

The cuts are "deeply disappointing and a far cry from what [Obama] has promised," Sophie Delaunay, head of Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.

While the 2013 budget calls for increasing spending by $350 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, an analysis by Health Global Access Project (GAP), a nonprofit organization of HIV/AIDS advocates and human rights activists, suggests this is a "bait and switch." That's because the proposed budget also chops more than $500 million from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

"Robbing Peter to pay Paul in the global AIDS fight is likely to leave both Peter and Paul dead without access to lifesaving services—services that would have been there if the president were not proposing to cut global AIDS programs," said Matthew Kavanagh, Health GAP's director of U.S. advocacy.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation's Policy Tracker, the budget cuts $546.4 million from HIV/AIDS and $25 million from tuberculosis treatment, but adds $350 million to the Global Fund. The shifts bring the overall drop in the Global Health Initiative's budget to $310 million.

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