The beginning of the long budgetary process began with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress on February 1. The total Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) budget request – $3.8 trillion – is the largest-ever requested by a President. Of that total, $8.5 billion – which represents about 0.2 percent (yes, that’s “point” 2 percent) – of the budget request, is in support of the Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). The global health request is a 9 percent increase overall from last year, with some program areas remaining fairly flat funded (like HIV/AIDS (click to download PDF) and tuberculosis) while others grew, including maternal and child health (by $150 million) and family planning (though the increase is not yet clearly known) in an effort to make up for some of the past years of severe shortages.
These are laudable steps forward to be sure – a 9 percent increase in this budget climate is nothing to shake a stick at. However, and this is an important however, if the United States is going to meet its fair share of global health programs, more needs to be done… and it certainly won’t get less expensive by waiting.
At the same time as the budget came out, the Administration released its expanded framework for implementing the Global Health Initiative (link leads to a PDF) as part of the consultative process to develop a new model to achieve health improvements and create effective and efficient country-led programs.
Another announcement in the budget that links to the GHI is a new $100 million strategic fund to better integrate various health programs in key countries so individuals can more easily access the various health services they need. Central to that will be holistically and comprehensively meeting the needs of women and girls through addressing the unmet need for family planning, maternal mortality and disability, child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and neglected tropical diseases.
Death is death – whether it is caused by malnutrition, or pregnancy or AIDS – and the same is true of illness which is why health needs to be addressed more comprehensively rather than pitting specific diseases and situations against one another. Garnering the benefits from integrated services requires “all boats to rise” when it comes to funding – imbalanced programs do not make for effective ones.
Much work lies ahead – through the rest of the funding process with Congress – to enable all people to have access to the information and services they need to exercise their right to make healthy decisions about their lives.