We are in the last two weeks of classes and stress levels are reaching their peak. In times like these, it is easy to get bogged down in all our work and lose sight of all the good things in our lives.
However, it is important to put it all in perspective and realize that in a year we won’t remember most of the struggles we are facing now. Although we face hardships, it is important to recognize all that we have — we are alive, living in a developed nation and receiving a great education.
Yet, many people are not so lucky.
In many places throughout the world, people do not have access to basic health care and diseases run rampant. It is vital that we support public health initiatives globally in order to help those who are less fortunate than we are in the United States. However, since 2010, the United States’ global health funding has remained mostly stagnant, and the 2018 request has decreased to $7.9 billion.
President Donald Trump has proposed a plan that will greatly cut funding to many organizations, one of such being the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The plan was created in 2003 to help fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in developing countries. Although it initially provided aid to 14 countries, it has since expanded to over 60 nations across five continents. Since its inception, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has provided treatment to over 11 million people and has prevented 2 million babies from being born with HIV, despite having HIV-positive mothers.
Another global public health initiative, The Global Fund, was created in 2002 to manage and invest money donated throughout the world to help fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. There have been one-third fewer deaths in areas where The Global Fund invests, and by 2016, it saved more than 22 million lives.
It predicts that by the end of 2019, another 14 million lives will be saved, reaching a total of 36 million people — about the current population of Canada.
Initiatives supported by The Global Fund will also have helped prevent 194 million new infections of HIV, TB and malaria.
Funding for these programs must increase. Although population numbers have risen and inflation has occurred, the amount donated to these organizations has remained constant. This year, the Senate has proposed cuts to funding for global health initiatives. Trump’s proposed budget plan would actually cut funds to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by 17 percent, from $4.6 billion to $3.8 billion.
Although some argue that global public health funding is not important to the United States and that we should focus on investing in our own country, they are misguided. Pandemics in other nations will affect us here.
In his recent op/ed supporting the AIDS relief plan, former President George W. Bush argues that “societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists.” By supporting efforts to prevent and treat diseases, we help develop societies and thus make them safer and more peaceful.
Personal benefits aside, it is also important to remember the sanctity of human life. How can we sit idly by and worry about our finals when people are dying throughout the world from diseases that could have been prevented by the United States?
As college students, we are idealistic and peace-loving. With these qualities, we can perpetuate the fact that this is by no means a partisan issue, but a human issue.
Michael Harel is a junior double-majoring in history and psychology.