I had the privilege of visiting Washington, D.C., during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk. Apollo 11’s image projected onto the Washington Monument gave a breathtaking reminder of the amazing things we can do when we choose to do so!
We can now choose whether to end the triple epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030, or whether we are content to let them continue ravaging the world. The United States can continue its historic role as a leader in this struggle, or it can turn its face inward and wait for these epidemics to reach its shores.
For me, the main reason to continue our leadership in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is that it is the right thing to do. The Global Fund has already saved 27 million lives, and with stepped-up commitment will save an additional 16 million lives in the next three years. That increase will cut the death toll from these diseases in half and stop another quarter of a million infections, whereas the achievements so far are already threatened by drug-resistant strains of TB and insecticide resistant mosquitoes. Yet I repeat, these epidemics could be ended by 2030.
Why would we not do that, since we can?
To get back on track to that goal, the Global Fund needs a replenishment of $14 billion over the next three years. Based on our bipartisan commitment in previous years, the U.S. pledge would be $1.56 billion per year for three years. Other donor nations, NGOs and private foundations make their pledge decisions looking to us for leadership. That replenishment would unlock an additional $46 billion from the lower-income participant countries themselves.
For some people, that just sounds like more money than they are willing to spend unless we get something back for the investment. They don’t engage in HIV risk activities; malaria is not a major problem here; they forget when they are flying or hear someone in the grocery store coughing that the number one risk factor for TB is simply breathing.
Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and 10 of our state legislators recently signed a letter to Congress from the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. It says, in part: “With 95% of the world’s consumers outside our borders, our country’s economic success is inherently linked to international engagement. In fact, over 36 million jobs nationwide are directly supported by global commerce. ... [O]ur international affairs programs directly promote the security, prosperity, and health of our fellow citizens. ... It’s an investment that strengthens our economy and creates more opportunities for our children’s future.”
Bill Gates focuses his global philanthropy on health care after studying the work of Hans Rosling, who has demonstrated that economies grow after countries improve the health of their people. It is not that they grow their economies and then begin to care for their people.
In his State of the Union message, the president vowed to end AIDS in our country and beyond. While the House of Representatives has already included $1.56 billion in its budget document, Congress will not have completed its appropriations before the Global Fund replenishment conference in early October. Nevertheless, it can send a strong message of U.S. commitment.
Call or email Rep. Liz Cheney to tell her to sign as a cosponsor of House Resolution 517 in support of the Global Fund. Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plans to introduce a companion resolution soon after August recess. Call or email Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso to let them know they should add their names as cosponsors of that resolution.
You can choose to help the world do something amazing, and it isn’t hard.