Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama's global health plan disappoints activists ran a story today that Obama's plans to spend 63 billion dollars over the next six years overseas may not live up to the president's campaign promises. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, says the FY10 budget "ignores the president's campaign promises to fully fund PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and to provide a fair-share contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria."

Here are further quotes from the article from various agencies. For the full piece, Click here

"This proposal is even worse than we had feared," said Christine Lubinski, director of the Centre for Global Health Policy. "With this spending request, Obama has broken his campaign promise to provide 1 billion dollars a year in new money for global AIDS, and he has overlooked the growing threat of tuberculosis."

"Until we see the full budget with the line item detail on U.S. bilateral AIDS programmes and on the Global Fund, we will not know just how far off the mark the budget information presented today really is," said Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance. "In fact, the early release of less than completely detailed budget information on the president's global health strategy makes it difficult to know what the real dollars are and how the White House intends on spending them."

Kaytee Riek of Health Global Access Project (HealthGAP) said that the U.S. was only currently meeting about one third of its expected contribution to the Global Fund - roughly 900 million dollars of contributions - and 1.8 billion dollars would constitute a fair U.S. contribution. "The Fund is facing a financial crisis," said Riek. "So when there's only a 366-million-dollar increase for (funding to combat) AIDS, malaria, and TB, how will you meet the needs of the Global Fund and expand PEPFAR, all of which Obama promised to do as a candidate" – a claim Riek said Obama had already reiterated as president. "This is not something we can fall behind on because it's going to come back and haunt us in the future," she said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Proposed bill to honor Yunus (HR 2000, S. 846)

"To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs to get the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly." -Dr Muhammad Yunus

These are the words of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and board member of RESULTS. I am happy to say that four IL members of Congress support HR 2000 which seeks to award Dr. Yunus with the Congressional Gold Medal to in recognition of his contributions to the fight against global poverty. Senator Durbin introduced the bill in the Senate (with Senator Bennett). Senator Burris has added his name to the it and Representatives Schakowsky and Kirk have cosponsored the bill in the House.

Honoring Dr. Yunus before Congress will raise public and congressional awareness of the power of microfinance to change lives and help build congressional support . It will also send a strong signal to USAID and the World Bank that the U.S. is committed to microfinance for the very poor and expects the our foreign aid and the World Bank to do the same.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Foreign Assistance Reform Bill Update (5/5/09)

Happy Cinqo de Mayo! A few notes about the new Foreign Assistance Reform Bill from Bread for the World...
-Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), on April 28.

-Bread is working quickly to gain cosponsors for the bill since it is expected to move rapidly from the House Foreign Affairs Committee to the House floor. It is likely that the committee will work on the bill before Congress begins its Memorial Day recess on May 23.

- The bill is a critical first step toward making foreign assistance more effective, efficient, and transparent. It calls on the president to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development, improve the evaluation of development programs, and increase the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries.

- Rep. Berman said that the bill is a “down payment” on a broader bill to improve foreign assistance that he plans to introduce later this year.