President Obama calls for HIV/AIDS, malaria funding

In his State of the Union address, President Obama included a statement on eliminating HIV/AIDS and malaria as epidemics: “Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, that’s within our grasp, and we have the chance to accomplish the same thing with malaria, something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.”

As the global health community moves into a Replenishment year for the Global Fund, it was heartening to hear the President pinpoint a crucial need to protect public health. Shortly after his speech, some experts expressed uncertainty about President Obama’s message. However, it’s important to note that significant progress against malaria has been made since 2000. In fact, the global malaria mortality rate has fallen by a whopping 60 percent. In the wake of this progress, we face a clear choice today: we can accelerate work toward ending the epidemic, or we can risk a resurgence and undermine the last decade of investments in global health.

We must first recognize the steady and bipartisan U.S. leadership on this issue as a remedy to the skepticism that The New York Times outlined on January 17. In addition to the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), the U.S. government is the largest single contributor to the Global Fund. Together, PMI and the Global Fund account for about 75 percent of all funding for global malaria programs. Smart, effective health investments made through the Global Fund have saved 17 million lives since 2002. Furthermore, Global Fund investments leverage even more domestic health financing in implementing countries, in some cases by 150 percent.

By ensuring a robust U.S. contribution to the global malaria fight through the FY 2017 budget and working with global public and private sector partners to secure strong contributions to the Global Fund’s Fifth Voluntary Replenishment Conference this fall, we can help make the goal of a malaria-free world a reality. Between 2000 and 2014, the Global Fund contributed to a 48 percent decline in malaria mortality. Imagine what could be accomplished by 2030 if resources for global health remain a priority.