Speaking of Santorum, PEPFAR Also Lost in 2012; Bono/O’Reilly in 2004; The Value of People

Early this morning  I posted a reminder about PEPFAR.  Today I saw a note on Facebook  from my friend Megan:

Sadly, PEPFAR has already lost a good bit of momentum, thanks to the Obama administration’s switch in focus from treating “expensive” diseases to treating cheap ones (like malaria). The recession is even affecting our estimation of how much people are worth.

Obviously, it’s good to treat malaria.  But it’s not good to cut PEPFAR by $93 million.  From the Center for Global Health Policy, dated December 16, 2011:

Critical global health programs still took a hit. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program sustained approximately $93 million in cuts compared to FY 2011 funding levels. This comes on the heels of an announcement by the Obama administration that AIDS is a U.S. policy priority and committing to putting 6 million people on HIV treatment by the end of 2013. The funding cuts will pose a challenge to these promises. If one were to project the number of individuals for whom PEPFAR could purchase medication in a given year with the $93 million – using the $335 per year per individual treatment costs through PEPFAR cited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her address to the National Institutes of Health in November – approximately 277,612 would be covered.

The bill also commits $1.05 billion to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – the same amount committed last year. While a healthy contribution, it still puts the U.S. behind on reaching its three-year pledge to contribute $4 billion to the Fund by 2013.

To the chagrin of HIV/AIDS prevention advocates, the bill also gives the directive that no funds for domestic or global HIV/AIDS may be directed toward needle exchange programs, a critical means of protecting injection drug users (IDU) from HIV-infection.  Of the approximately 16 million IDU in the world, 3 million are infected with HIV and one in three new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa is attributable to injection drug use.

I’m not sure how to feel about the IDU issue, especially given my other post from this morning showing that death by accidental poisoning (90% of which is drug poisoning) killed more people last year than motor vehicles.

Bracket the IDU aid for a moment.  The AIDS crisis in Africa  isn’t suddenly over.  Eight years ago, I heard Bono tell Bill O’Reilly that our outright refusal to end the crisis would be akin to the 14th-cenutry civilizations of the East holding back the cure for Plague if they’d had one.   He also said that even though some victims contracted the disease because of ignorance (he said “stupid practices,”  but he didn’t mean the people were stupid), inaction on our part can’t be excused:  “God is not going to accept that as an answer and history is not going to accept that as an answer.”

Look, I know we’re still funding this fight in big ways and that reducing aid isn’t the same thing as ignoring the problem.  But when you think about some of the things we waste billions of dollars on privately and publicly, it should make you pause.

 

“The recession is even affecting our estimation of how much people are worth.”

 

If it’s true that the recession can also make us more grateful for what we have and more willing to part with things we don’t need so that others can have basic staples and care, maybe we’ll come through this okay.  It doesn’t start with the federal government, but the federal government needs to hear you.

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4 comments

  1. “It doesn’t start with the federal government, but the federal government needs to hear you.” I love this. What worries me is that the message we continue to hear is “cut funding” and get out of these types of commitments. “Cutting foreign aid” means cutting things like this. I think Rick Santorum acted out of his firmly held belief that turning our backs is turning our back to God’s call to heal the sick. I’m not sure that he would stand by that right now, not with primary voters calling for draconian spending cuts across the board. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    1. On this I am hopeful then. Now, what do we have to do to help him further understand Christ’s message of love and acceptance? Perhaps we can go evangelical on him!

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