The U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed budget for 2011 would cut funding for foreign aid programs that fight poverty and help victims of disease across the globe.
According to ONE.org, an organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable diseases in places such as Africa, programs – that make up less than 1 percent of the federal budget – that fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and hunger were cut by 43 percent.
This is an unethical move by House Republicans. The world’s poorest shouldn’t suffer because efforts to lower the national deficit aren’t more creative.
According to ONE.org, the impact of cuts to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis alone will be devastating, leading to a loss of 10 million malaria bed nets, preventing 3.7 million people from getting tested for HIV and preventing another 400,000 new patients from starting Anti-Retroviral Treatments
In a letter to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world.”
She couldn’t be more correct. Even though the U.S. is facing a tough economic situation at home, it has a global responsibility that cannot be avoided. The cuts are ill timed, as the U.S. faces a changing political environment in the Middle East – making America’s image even more important.
Cutting aid could also cause a dangerous ripple effect in the future.
For example, a primary way to spread HIV/AIDS is through intercourse. If 3.7 million people do not have the resources to be tested and are HIV positive, chances are another few million people might contract this virus.
Eventually the number of people affected by these diseases would increase and cost more money in not only controlling the outbreak, but also stabilizing the health conditions of those affected.
Long-term effects of these cuts must be taken into consideration.
Diseases in foreign countries that no longer receive help from the U.S. could easily spread and become a problem in not just that particular region, but here in the U.S., making the cuts all too real for Americans who think foreign aid funds are just a waste of money a world away.
People are suffering in the U.S., but the magnitude of pain, unsanitary conditions and hunger is tremendous for the people in the Third World. If cuts are required, lawmakers should consider other options, such as eliminating Bush-era tax cuts.
Zahira Babwani is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences.