Flatlined Spending Won’t Save African Children from Malaria

The new chairmen of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate decided to keep U.S. government spending at its current level until October 2007. While getting rid of the porkbarrel earmarks is laudable, this action also means no new money for the President’s Malaria Initiative. Fiscal year 2007 PMI funds were going to be used for programs in Malawi, Senegal, Rwanda and Mozambique. Without including PMI money in some sort of supplemental funding bill, these programs will have to be put on hold and programs in Uganda, Tanzania and Angola will continue to operate at current funding levels. 
It is helpful to put malaria funding in context.  In FY 1997 the U.S. through USAID spent only $10.9m on malaria. This rose to $100m in FY 2006. With the introduction of PMI spending on malaria is projected to increase to $500m by 2010 (see chart). In FY 2006, PMI was accommodated within existing USAID malaria spending, and thus more than two-thirds of the $30 million were taken from smaller country programs to meet the needs of the PMI countries. It was hoped that FY 2007 would mark the beginning of specific PMI funding. Unfortunately, malaria-specific programs, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and a number of other initiatives may spend the first part of the new year fighting each other for scarce dollars in a hoped for supplemental funding bill, rather than fighting the diseases.

USG Spending and Projections for Malaria, 1997-2010
As luminaries gathered in Washington last week at the White House Summit on Malaria, the issue of funding was not mentioned, even though President Bush announced eight more countries would be added to the list of focus countries. However, lawmakers did attend the high-profile affair including Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat expected to lead the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid. Leahy later told the New York Times that he wanted to find a way to fund PMI. “We’re trying to get the kind of money we spend in a day in Iraq,” he told the Times. “Somewhere we’ve got to have our priorities right. It’s a moral issue.”
With 3,000 children dying from malaria each day, you better believe it’s a moral issue.

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