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Commentary & Opinion
U.S. Foreign Aid Critical to Achieving Health Goals, Improving Lives, Strengthening International Relationships

September 21, 2012

"Day after day, American foreign aid is dramatically improving millions of lives and consequently, impressions of America," former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and Ray Chambers, chair of the MDG Health Alliance and the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria, write in the Huffington Post's "Global Motherhood" blog. For example, "[w]hen a mother in malaria prone sub-Saharan Africa puts her child to sleep under a mosquito net that Americans supported, America is building a relationship with that family" they state, noting, "Most Americans, when they realize that our investment in foreign assistance, at less than one percent of our GDP, can provide such transformative benefits, stand firmly behind this support, even in these more difficult economic times domestically." The authors cite a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that showed two-thirds of respondents felt U.S. spending on global health was too little or about the right amount.

"Yet notwithstanding the compelling evidence, development assistance is under threat, and it could not come at a more critical time," Kean and Chambers write, noting the U.N. General Assembly is meeting this week and will assess efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "While American assistance has certainly played a catalytic role in" helping to reach those goals, even more impressive is the collaborative global model that has developed," they state, noting efforts such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the declining costs of health interventions and the involvement of emerging economies. "[T]he MDG Health Alliance, in partnership with key U.N. organizations, is leading the charge for a final 'Big Push' to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015," Kean and Chambers write, adding, "Funding is at the foundation of our effort, and it is only by securing sufficient resources that we can hope to strengthen our international relationships and improve lives on such a massive scale" (9/20).

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