About Us


Contact Information


How You Can Make a Difference


Issues


Legislative Action Center


Links


Policy Information Center


Press
Releases


Religious Liberty


Send Me
More Information

 

 

 

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy Blogs the Issues!

Friday, July 18, 2008

By Joel P. Rutkowski, Ph.D., President

Senate triples global AIDS funding as deficit balloons.

Rejecting efforts to reduce the bills $50 billion cost to the American taxpayer, the Senate approved legislation on July 16, 2008, that triples funding to fight Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other diseases globally.  (1) 

To combat AIDS, the Senate dramatically increased the United States' (US) contribution to a global fund on an 80 to 16 vote.  President George W. Bush has approved of the larger funding for the program that he started in 2003 for which he requested over the next five years $30 billion.  

The initial program cost taxpayers $15 billion and focused on 15 poor nations, but the current legislation expands the program to provide services to more than 100 countries. 

In its annual report, the United Nations (U.N.) AIDS program did not report how many more current human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections occurred in 2007 but reported reductions in the figure by over 6 million from its 2006 estimate- from 39.5 million to 33.2 million. (2)   Furthermore, the number of new HIV infections annually peaked around 1998, the agency admits. 

To encourage increased funding to fight AIDS, the U.N AIDS and World Health Organization (WHO) have been distorting figures. For example, U.N AIDS program relied heavily on “sentinel – site surveillance” or prenatal clinics for its data.  Six years ago in Rolling Stone Magazine, the system was described and faulted. (3). “ If a given number of pregnant women are HIV– positive the formula  says, then a certain percentage of all adults and children are presumed to be infected too.”(4) This is just scientific nonsense to use such an extrapolation to literally the whole world from a small non–representative portion of the population. 

The information for the program's reality came from a number of careful, knowledgeable scientists such as Dr. James Chin.  (The U.N AIDS program knew this to be the case.)  Responsible for some of the earliest world AIDS forecasts was Dr. James Chin.  When he worked for the U.N., the figure's escalation was not a result of the virus but politics as Dr. Chin later learned. According to Dr. Chin, “They [the U.N.] don't falsifying per se” but “as an epidemiologist I look at these numbers and how they're derived. Every step of the way there is a range and you can choose the low end or the high end. Almost consistently the high end was chosen.” (5) 

What is even more troubling and disturbing is that Dr. Chin, the author of “The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology with Political Correctness” believes the numbers are too high by about 8 million.

President's Emergency Plan for AIDS (PEPFAR)

President George W. Bush announced the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan) in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. It was the largest commitment ever by any nation for an international health initiative dedicated to a single disease – a five year, $15 billion, multifaceted approach to combating the disease globally. In its level of support for the fight against HIV/AIDS, the U.S. now leads the world. Furthermore the Bush administration at the launching of PEPFAR proposed that over the plan's five–year term, $1 billion be contributed to the global fund.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

Established as an independent foundation in Switzerland to support country efforts to curb the number of illnesses and deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria was the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund).

At least twice annually, the Fund's Board meets to discuss governance issues, such as grant approval. Rotated among seven donor countries, seven developing countries, and one representative from each of a developed country non– governmental organization (NGO), a developing country (NGO), the private sector, a foundation, and affected communities are nineteen board seats. And a permanent board seat is held by the U.S.

The Fund is not an implementing agency; it is a financing vehicle. Its origins as an independent entity to fight the three diseases lie partly in a French proposal made in 1998, in recommendations made by former United Nations Secretary – General Kofi Annan in April 2001, and in ideas developed in the 106th Congress. Although the Global Fund was established in January 2002, President George W. Bush in May 2001, pledged $200 million to such a fund. (6)

Donors have pledged more than $19 billion to the fund of which nearly $10 billion has been paid as of March 20, 2008, to support more than 500 grants totaling more than $10 billion for projects in 136 countries. (7) Annually, through Proposal Rounds the Fund awards grants. On March 3, 2008, the fund launched its eighth Round. Since initially, there were insufficient donor pledges to approve all recommended proposals, the Fund approved Round 5 grants in two tranches in 2005. In September 2005, the Fund approved the first group of Round 5 proposals and after donors pledged to make additional contributions, the second group was approved in December 2005. Only if it has sufficient resources on hand to support the first two years of a proposed project will the Global Fund approve a proposal.  Designed to avoid disruptions to projects due to funding shortage is the reason for this policy.  Interruptions in treatment regiments, which could lead to treatment resistant strains of the diseases or death can be cause by funding lapses.

The largest single contributor to the Global Fund is the US.  Congress has appropriated  $3.8 billion to the Fund from fiscal year (FY) 2001 through for FY 2008. And in FY 2008, it appropriated the single largest U.S. contribution to date - $840.3 billion. The State Department would provide $545.5 million and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would provide $294.8 million of those funds. For  FY 2009 contribution to the Global Fund, President George W. Bush requested $500 million. Consistently, Congress has provided more to the Fund than the Bush administration has requested.

Final Thoughts

From official organizations, NGO's, politicians and the media, the epidemic of lies regarding AIDS has yet to peak but hopefully with pressure these groups will be forced to lower again the distorted figures. However, these groups will continue to fight and do their best to hold off as long as possible to continue to bring attention to AIDS at the expense of deceitfully shortchanging attention and funding to other problems that are much more readily preventable, treatable, or both such as tuberculosis and malaria. (8.) 

AIDS funding should be declining, not increasing.  A recent report by the U.N. AIDS program indicated that the lowered estimates for worldwide HIV has nothing to do with prevention, treatment, care – what was the case is infections said to have already have occurred never existed. (9) 

A critical part of PEPFAR is the Global Fund.  To protect against wasteful spending, particularly in countries that have a well documented history of corruption and poor  financial management, the Funds oversight mechanisms are not strong enough.  Furthermore, the PEPFAR is a similar program to the Global Fund so why is the US government creating another big government bureaucratic program when a global  program already exists. What the US should be doing is encouraging not big government to fund such programs at taxpayers' expense but to secure support from other sources, particularly the private sector. (10) 

U.S. Representative of Washington Adam Smith (Democrat) expressed his reservations about the Fund's oversight capacity at a March 2007 hearing on TB held by the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health in which he stated the following: 

The information and accountability that Congress has come to take for granted through bilateral programs are not available through the Global Fund, and that many of the primary recipients of the Global Fund grants are governments with a history of corruption and fraud and or limited capacity to properly manage large sums of money in their health sectors.  One could argue that the absence in the Global Fund of a robust reporting and monitoring mechanism, at both the primary and sub – recipient level, is an open invitation for waste in these countries and a tragic loss of opportunity to save lives.  The implementation of a system that provides accountability in transparency would seem vital, absolutely necessary in my view, to continue the expanded donor support of the Global Fund in the future. (11)  

Furthermore, since the PEPFAR is just another big government bureaucracy there is no doubt that just like the Global Fund an oversight mechanism to protect against wasteful spending, particularly in countries that have a well documented history of corruption and poor financial management of funds, is also lacking.

As perilous financial uncertainties face the US economy, it is no time for the Senate to more than triple funding to fight AIDS and other diseases globally.  In February, the White Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projected that the nation would have a $410 billion deficit at the end of FY 2008.  However, when it releases its revised figures later this month, there is no doubt that number will be larger.  (12)  

Once again it is unfortunate that the American taxpayer is liable for this unprecedented and out of control spending tab the Congress and White House is running up. Since the Senate did not cut spending, it must borrow the money to finance this program thus running up the budget deficit.  When big government spending takes money out of the private sector to fund its programs through borrowing or higher taxes, it reduces available resources to private enterprises thus limiting its ability to do what it does best – creating products, wealth, and jobs. Such actions are a prescription for disaster when the U.S economy is experiencing, as it currently is, an economic slow down.  For if the Congress and White House do not get their economic house in order, America will soon be facing in the best case scenario a recession and in the worst case scenario a depression.

Endnotes

  1. Paul Kane, “Senate Agrees to $50 Billion AIDS Plan,” Washington Post, [Retrieved July 17, 2008].
  2. Michael Fumento, “U.N. drops AIDS estimates,” Washington Times, December 9, 2007, p. B.3
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: Progress Report and Issues for Congress, CRS Report for Congress, April 14, 2008.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Michael Fumento, “U.N. drops AIDS estimates,” The Washington Times, December 9, 2007, p. B.3.
  9. Ibid.
  10. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: Progress Report and Issues for Congress, CRS Report for Congress, April 14, 2008.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Manu Raju, “Federal Deficit Soars,” The Hill, [Retrieved July 16, 2008].

Back to the American Voice Institute of Public Policy Home Page