BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

April 10, 2013

The Rally for Medical Research: Protecting investments in tropical medicine and global health science

Executive Director
American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

In this guest post, Karen A. Goraleski, executive director of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, writes about the importance of US funding for global health research. This is the third post in a series about this week’s Rally for Medical Research.

On April 8 in Washington, DC, thousands of researchers, patients, and advocates participated in The Rally for Medical Research, organized by the American Association for Cancer Research and joined by more than 200 partnering organizations—including the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The rally communicated the research community’s message to policymakers that sequestration and other cuts are simply wrong.

ASTMH members join the thousands of researchers, patients, and advocates who participated in The Rally for Medical Research
ASTMH members join the thousands of researchers, patients, and advocates who participated in The Rally for Medical Research. Credit: ASTMH.

While many of the speakers, including journalist Cokie Roberts, spoke of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and HIV, we also know that millions of people in the world—far too many—are in desperate need of lifesaving treatments and vaccines for treatable and preventable infections and diseases, especially those that afflict the global poor.

Additional cuts (on top of what has been cut over recent years) to threatened tropical medicine and global health research and development programs at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Agency for International Development, and Department of Defense will send us into an expensive back-slide of money and lives—delaying new vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics from reaching those who need them most.

Let’s put things in perspective: tropical medicine and global health represent just a small portion of the US budget, but are making a BIG difference at home and abroad. Isn’t this the return-on-investment that we all clamor for?

The US efforts on global health have saved millions of lives, affording families a fighting chance to build more productive lives. Investments in tropical medicine and global health contribute to our nation’s security by protecting US borders from emerging infectious diseases and reducing poverty in the developing world, which in turn creates stable countries that provide economic and security benefits for the US.

Research IS the game-changer that Washington so often talks about. As a community, let’s tell this message to our elected officials loud and often until they finally hear us.

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