March 28, 2014
A new Global Health Technologies Coalition report says while big budget battles in Washington may be over for now, adequate funding to fight HIV, TB, malaria and other diseases may still be at risk. From VOA:
Coalition Director Kaitlin Christenson praises the improved atmosphere between Democrats and Republicans. She called the ceasefire in budget debates on Capitol Hill “good news.”
“We’re pleased to see that for the first time in several years Congress is able to move forward with a budget that went through the relatively normal process. And we’re pleased to see that in many areas numbers for global health specifically were held strong,” she said.
The federal budget had gone though – what’s called – sequestration. It required mandatory across-the-board cuts for all agencies if Congress failed to make its own spending cuts. In recent years, the legislative body could not reach agreement, so all agencies took a big hit in spending.
Christenson said while the climate has improved, there are no guarantees of agreement for the next fiscal year beginning in October.
“Going into negotiations for FY-15 we do have some concerns and are hoping that Congress will – as it takes the president’s budget request – bring numbers back up for agencies like the NIH [National Institutes of Health], like global health programs at the State Department and at USAID.”
She said the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Agency for International Development play a critical role in researching and developing health-related products, simply known as R&D.
With USAID and the State Department, in particular, we saw that funding levels were for the most part decreased across all conditions and disease areas based on the levels that were approved by Congress for the FY-14 budget agreement.
It’s a similar situation for the National Institutes of Health.
Christenson said, “With the NIH, the president’s request for FY-15 was still lower than the request that came in in 2014. It’s a slight increase over what we saw passed by Congress, but the budget request coming from the administration has actually decreased. There’s critical research happening at the NIH that helps us understand how these diseases take place – and helps propel the development of new products that are desperately needed.”
Before sequestration began in March of last year, many research projects were underway. Many millions of dollars had already been spent on them. When the cuts took hold, the projects simply shut down.