International affairsThe International Affairs Budget is a crucial investment in foreign aid and development. Fighting diseases and epidemics, providing humanitarian aid and educating children who are most vulnerable to dropping out and not receiving an education are just some of the areas where funding is applied. Those suffering from poverty are less likely to receive aid and proper health services necessary to prevent and cure illnesses.

Thinking about more recent epidemics, such as the Ebola and Zika virus, it can be seen that funding for health-related programs within The International Affairs Budget was crucial to lowering the statistics of those who are affected. Up to now, 16 percent of The International Affairs Budget is dedicated to global health funding. This includes maternal and child healthcare, nutrition and tackling diseases such as polio and HIV/AIDS.

The Polio Virus Around the World

The Polio vaccine is a great example of a threat that could be eradicated with the correct application of foreign aid. Polio, also known as Poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease that causes paralysis and possibly death. According to The Polio Global Eradication Initiative, as of 1988, polio has infected and paralyzed over 1,000 children daily worldwide.

In 1931, Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Dame Jean MacNamara were able to identify multiple strains of polio, which became known as types 1, 2, and 3. In 1955, a polio vaccine was introduced from wild-type poliovirus strains that were killed, therefore inactive. Also known as IPV, this form of the vaccine has been able to eliminate polio from countries such as Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

In 1961, the oral polio vaccine, a mixture of the 3 strains of polio, was introduced. The strains selected are less likely to originate within the body and be spread to others. Due to the high rates of success of the OPV, alongside its low cost to purchase, this version of the vaccine has been key in globally eliminating polio.

Despite these 2 forms of vaccines being available, The Polio Global Eradication Initiative reports that 430 million children are still at risk of contracting polio, mainly in Africa and Asia. As of February 2015, The United States government approved a $228 million in funds to tackle the elimination of polio.

Once a pandemic, now the rates of polio have been reduced by 99.99 percent because of funding that has gone towards research and creating initiatives such as The Global Polio Eradication Initiative to continually fight polio.

The Smallpox Virus Around the World

Variola virus, also known as smallpox, was an infectious disease that caused fever and a specific type of progressive skin rash. While many recovered from the disease, three out of 10 died and, of those who survived, many had large scars left on their body.

Looking back at the history, there had been several global outbreaks of smallpox from China to Africa to Australia. In 1959, The World Health Organization (WHO) started a plan to eradicate smallpox, but it was difficult to obtain funding and countries willing to participate. When The Intensified Eradication Program started in 1967, progress was made in areas such as South America, Asia and Africa. One thing that became clear was that, with the eradication of smallpox, comes lower medical expenses.

For instance, when smallpox was finally eradicated in 1980, quarantine conditions no longer had to be initiated. When combined with the costs of the disabilities of those who had survived the disease after fighting smallpox, the savings were around $1 billion. Therefore, it can be concluded that with funding, comes research and initiatives, which heightens the likelihood of vaccines and lowers medical expenses both domestically and globally.

HIV/AIDS Around the World

Around $330 million of the global health percentage of The International Affairs Budget has been dedicated to HIV/AIDS. Out of these funds, $275 million will be shared with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. According to The Lancet, AIDS-related deaths, when comparing 2005 to 2016, have decreased .9 million. In addition, the rates of new infections have decreased by 16 percent.

One reason for this decrease is because of increased treatments that are available due to an increase in funding. Therefore, if funding is reduced, inversely, there would be a rise in infection rates of HIV/AIDS due to lack of research, services and education about preventing the virus.

As readers can see, The International Affairs Budget is crucial to the progression of global health. Instances such as polio, smallpox and HIV/AIDS are prime examples of how funding can be the key to reduction and even eradication. With increased funding, comes increased research, cures, education and prevention techniques. E-mail your senators and representatives today to urge their support and protection for the funding of The International Affairs Budget.

– Jessica Ramtahal

Photo: Flickr

USAID Zambia
A Zambian Government official, Bert Mushala, praised the American government for its foreign aid initiatives at the launch of two new USAID health programs in Zambia in June. According to USAID Mission director for Zambia, Susan Brems, the two projects, Thrive and Mawa, are aimed at strengthening nutrition within small farming households and with those living with HIV. The initiatives would also focus on enhancing economic opportunities for poor households, encouraging crop diversification.

The Thrive and Mawa programs, funded by USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), would benefit 21,500 people in the Eastern Province of Zambia. This runs parallel to USAID’s Feed the Future program which is aimed at assisting 200,000 smallholder farming households rise out of poverty, decreasing the percentage of malnourished children, and augmenting the production and consumption of nutritious crops. Zambia was selected as a Feed the Future country because of its vast capability for agricultural growth, along with its large food insecurity.

The Feed the Future program and the Thrive and Mawa programs are all focused around the Eastern Province due to the high prevalence of poverty there. As the Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala has witnessed USAID health programs in this poor region of Zambia and commended USAID’s support of Zambia.

USAID’s programs in Zambia, working under the US Global Health Initiative, have several other focuses besides nutrition and empowering small farmers. Under PEPFAR, USAID works with the Ministry of Health to prevent mother-to -child transmission of HIV. The amount of infants born with HIV has dropped from 39 percent in 2005 to 5 percent in 2010, and over 400,000 Zambians are now on regular antiretroviral treatments for HIV. USAID has also addressed gender-based violence and supported over 500,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

These USAID health programs in Zambia are all part of a larger network of the USAID initiatives in Zambia. USAID also focuses on economic growth, education, and creating a just and democratic government in the country. These initiatives have led to a longer life expectancy for Zambians along with 12 straight years of notable economic growth. As a country that has such potential for growth, particularly in agriculture, a prosperous Zambia is crucial to stability in a region which includes the war torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.

– Martin Drake

Source: USAID
Photo: USAID