Obama’s global, domestic & HIV research budget backslides on existing commitments

TAG press release

On 14 February, the US activist organisation TAG issued a press release, summarised below, that criticised President Obama’s recent budget and policy announcements.

Treatment Action Group (TAG) is deeply disappointed by President Obama’s proposed cuts to PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and bilateral TB funds, freezing of NIH (National Institutes of Health) research as well as the insufficient attention to the worsening domestic AIDS crisis in the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget plan. “Why does President Obama want to turn his back on the most effective, life- saving global health and development program in history?” said Mark Harrington, Executive Director of TAG,

Since 2003, PEPFAR has been the most efficient and effective U.S. global health initiative ever. […] Now, in a stunning reversal, President Barak Obama has proposed an incomprehensible cut of over a half billion dollars — nearly 13% decrease of $543 million — in what can only be interpreted as a clear signal that the President may allow PEPFAR to expire when its current authorisation ends next year.

While Administration officials may argue that these cuts will be partly offset by program efficiencies, lower drug prices, and the proposed increase in U.S. support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) — which TAG supports — the reality is that U.S. support alone cannot reverse the deep effects of the broken promises of the G-20 and the other Global Fund donors. By cutting the PEPFAR budget, over half a million people will be denied life saving HIV treatment, and countless new HIV and TB/HIV infections will occur that could have been averted.

“For the first time since he entered office, President Obama also proposed a flat budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – undermining our ability to translate scientific advances into cures, and jeopardising [the US] long term status as the global leader in health research. President Obama would have turned back the clock on the search for an AIDS cure, and better treatments for Hepatitis C and TB.” said TAG’s Director of Communication and Advocacy, Lei Chou.

Furthermore, the Administration’s 2013 proposal continued an unbroken string of insufficient support for U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) work to fight the two leading killers of people with HIV — tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. […] The $67 million increase for ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Programme) will not come close to meeting the increasing demand […] for the most marginalised amongst us.

Source: TAG press release, (16 February 2012).

See also:

Cohen J. Global health advocates aren’t impressed with budget plan. Science (14 February 2012).

President’s budget request reflects strong commitment on global AIDS

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