February 10, 2020

GHTC condemns President’s proposed cuts to global health and medical research

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) condemns President Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request seeking deep cuts to global health and medical research programs. The budget proposes a 34 percent cut to global health programs at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department, as well as significant cuts to public health and research agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. If enacted, these reductions would have a disastrous impact on scientific advancements for global health. Cuts could mean fewer breakthrough vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments developed and more lives worldwide at risk of deadly diseases and debilitating conditions.

“The Trump administration has once again failed to recognize what Congress has championed across partisan lines for decades: that US investments in global health research are fundamental to America’s global leadership and essential to building a stable, prosperous world where more people survive and thrive and dangerous outbreaks are quickly quashed,” said Jamie Bay Nishi, Director of GHTC. “At a time when our progress in global health is in a fragile state—with biology throwing up new challenges like the rise of drug-resistant HIV and tuberculosis and insecticide-resistant malaria parasites—any cuts to global health research programs put past gains at further risk. Additionally, the budget’s proposed elimination of HIV/AIDS research funding at USAID represents a broken promise by our President who pledged last year to ‘defeat AIDS in America and beyond.’” 

The Administration’s FY21 budget proposes widespread cuts to programs and funding lines that support research and development (R&D) of new drugs, vaccines, and other technologies to fight neglected diseases and conditions. Examples include the following, which are relative to FY20 enacted levels:

In the budget request, the President does maintain support for specific programs critical to supporting global health security, including sustaining funding for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority—which advances medical countermeasures against emerging infectious diseases that pose a risk to Americans—and boosting funding for global health security accounts at USAID and CDC—which support efforts to strengthen health systems of partner nations to better recognize and contain outbreaks. GHTC welcomes this support, which is vital to enhancing global preparedness. 

However, taken together, the budget fails to recognize the interrelatedness of the persistent and emerging global health challenges we face. And the cuts proposed to biomedical research advanced through programs at NIH, CDC, and USAID would ultimately undermine our efforts to strengthen health systems globally. A life saved from Ebola or the novel coronavirus is not a life saved if it is later lost to tuberculosis or complications during childbirth. And a health system primed and ready to respond to an outbreak can only achieve so much without the right diagnostics to detect, vaccines to prevent, and therapies to treat a deadly disease.

For the past three years, Congress has acted in a bipartisan manner to reject the President’s proposed budget cuts to global and medical research. We urge Congress to do so once again and maintain our nation’s strong legacy of humanitarian and scientific leadership in global health R&D.

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