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Opinion: An Uncertain Future As US Policymakers Debate Federal Budget Cuts, Global Health Science Hangs in the Balance.

Health & Wellness  (tags: research, risks, safety, science, society, study, treatment, warning, protection, prevention, medicine, illness, health, healthcare, government, disease, ethics, humans, death, children, cancer, babies, family, women )

- 1870 days ago -
Sequestration will have widespread effects on funding levels for US global health and R&D programs, which will see cuts of 5-7.8 percent.

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JL A (281)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 9:08 am

Opinion: An Uncertain Future

As US policymakers debate federal budget cuts, global health science hangs in the balance.

By Kaitlin Christenson | March 6, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, VCELLOHOWe at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) have been inspired this year by a number of scientific breakthroughs designed to combat some of the greatest public health scourges across the globe. For the first time in 40 years, a new treatment was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest infectious killer worldwide. In another landmark decision, the FDA also approved for the first time a drug (Truvada) that can be used to prevent HIV through a method known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which targets high-risk individuals. The recent development of semisynthetic artemisinin to treat malaria means that scientists now have a new, stable source for the drug, whose supply has historically depended upon a volatile crop that only grows in a few places in the world. And just this week, groundbreaking research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that a toddler in Mississippi was functionally cured of HIV.

These are just a few of the impressive array of other important discoveries that emerged this year. In fact, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of global health products developed in recent years, with 45 new tools registered between 2000 and 2010. In more than half of these cases, the work was supported by the US government. But the cuts that will come with this month’s mandatory sequestration, unless policymakers reverse the sequester and stop the full force of the budget slashes, and the potential for additional cuts down the line, mean that progress could come to a standstill while research projects sit on the shelf.

Sequestration will have widespread effects on funding levels for US global health and R&D programs, which will see cuts of 5–7.8 percent. For instance, some government estimates predict that sequestration will cut over $400 million from global health initiatives at the State Department and USAID. Other estimates predict that the NIH will lose more than $1.5 billion. Without question, cuts of this magnitude will severely hamper scientific progress at these agencies to develop new vaccines, drugs, and other health tools against HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and neglected tropical infections like Chagas—diseases that are increasingly affecting American populations. The very nature of the research process means that budget cuts will have long-lasting and damaging effects on current and future health tools already in the research pipeline. Many research projects interrupted by funding reductions cannot be seamlessly resumed once funding is resumed in the future.

Last week (February 26), the GHTC released our annual policy report, with clear recommendations on how the government can build upon its historical legacy in science and create a more coordinated and harmonized approach to developing global health products. In particular, we call on policymakers to:

Use upcoming budget negotiations as an opportunity to reverse sequestration and develop a long-term budget solution that protects and—where possible—increases funding for global health product development. This week, Congress returns to debates over the fiscal year 2013 budget. If policymakers can reach a deal before March 27, when the current budget resolution expires, they can prevent the full impact of the sequester.
Sustain robust US agency investments in the discovery, development, and delivery of new tools for public health worldwide.
Develop a 5-year strategy to coordinate the US government’s global health research and product development efforts.

As they make decisions regarding the federal budget in the coming days and weeks, members of the US Congress and presidential administration have the option to choose a path that will renew the nation’s leadership and scientific innovation, or one that has the potential to decimate progress that we’ve made so far. Let’s hope they choose wisely.

Kaitlin Christenson is the coalition director for the Global Health Technologies Coalition, a group of more than 25 nonprofit organizations working to increase awareness of the urgent need for technologies that save lives in the developing world.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11:04 am

There is something deeply wrong in our national thinking when money trumps health. This country has always, and I do mean always as it begins even before George Washington, operated on significant debt or deficits. As do all governments world wide. This is not your personal family budget. That health is not addressed in an immediate and direct way is deeply disturbing, and I believe should be to everyone. No one is exempt from disease.

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 2:42 pm
noted thanks

SuSanne P (193)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 3:12 pm
Thank you although this is so distressing. Yes,"there certainly is something deeply wrong in our national thinking when money trumps health!" One of my best friends who lives just outside of London phoned me yesterday and we chatted away like we always do. She follows US Politics now and shared story after story of HOW REALLY GOOD THEY HAD IT THERE, although everyone complains. I have heard the complaints from fellow Canadians and friends from the U>K> for decades...but the ones who see what this "good ole USofA" has become, they no longer complain. THEY TAKE CARE OF THEIR ILL, like any human being or country should.

JL A (281)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 6:10 pm
So true Kit. You are welcome Carol and SuSanne.
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.
You cannot currently send a star to SuSanne because you have done so within the last day.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 7:45 pm
How is a nation crippled of the most important services going to boost the economy with sick, ill and dead workforce??

JL A (281)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 8:16 pm
Excellent question Angelika! You cannot currently send a star to Angelika because you have done so within the last day.

SĂĽheyla C (234)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 6:45 am
Thank you JL.

JL A (281)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 8:00 am
You are welcome Suheyla

Birgit W (160)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 12:56 pm
Thank you

Darren W (218)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 1:45 pm
Politics shouldn't interfere with Health, or Science for that matter...

JL A (281)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 2:04 pm
You are welcome Birgit.
You cannot currently send a star to Darren because you have done so within the last day.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 2:49 pm
For a better solution, please sign;

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 3:52 pm
Noted. How much worse will it get? Are they thinking Great Depression x10?

MmAway M (505)
Monday March 11, 2013, 3:19 am
Crooked Politics...I have no patience with either party and they are all soooo crooked~

Patricia H. (440)
Monday March 11, 2013, 5:16 am

paul m (93)
Monday March 11, 2013, 7:32 am


JL A (281)
Monday March 11, 2013, 8:01 am
You cannot currently send a star to Mm because you have done so within the last day.

Birgit W (160)
Monday March 11, 2013, 1:49 pm
Thank you

Shirley B (5)
Monday March 11, 2013, 2:26 pm
Totally disgusting and depressing.

JL A (281)
Monday March 11, 2013, 3:33 pm
You are welcome Birgit.
You cannot currently send a star to Shirley because you have done so within the last day.

Helen Porter (39)
Monday March 11, 2013, 10:14 pm

Robert O (12)
Tuesday March 12, 2013, 12:29 am

Ro H (0)
Tuesday March 12, 2013, 5:59 am

JL A (281)
Tuesday March 12, 2013, 8:50 am
You are welcome Robert and Ro.

Kelly Rogers (303)
Friday March 15, 2013, 10:34 pm
What debate??????????????????????????? It is ALWAYS how much more can we get from the poor. Maybe where to cut is the debate/
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