The newly unveiled Trump administration budget proposal includes steep cuts for global health programs and the World Health Organization, even as the world grapples with the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, it does increase its proposed funding for Global Health Security.
The FY21 Budget Proposal, released today, outlines a nearly $65M proposed cut to the World Health Organization – a more than 50% decrease from FY20 funding.
It also proposes a 34% overall cut to Global Health Programs.
It includes a proposed $115 million for Global Health Security aimed at enabling “the U.S. government, in partnership with other nations, international organizations, and public and private stakeholders, to prevent avoidable epidemics, detect threats early, and respond rapidly and effectively to disease outbreaks and other critical infectious disease threats (including anti-microbial resistance) in an effort to prevent them from becoming national or global emergencies.” This is an increase of $25 million from last year’s request.
Asked by CNN about the impact the WHO cut could have on the global coronavirus response, the Director of the Department of State’s Bureau of Budget & Planning downplayed the potential negative consequences.
“We believe that each of the international organizations has a need for greater accountability and efficiency,” Douglas Pitkin said during a briefing at the State Department Monday. “We have other mechanisms…for providing resources, targeted outreach and targeted efforts to reach specific diseases and health crises.”
Jim Richardson, the Director of US Foreign Assistance Resources at the State Department, said the US was the “largest donor overall to global health around the world.”
“We do think that it’s important to balance the multilateral against the bilateral assistance,” Richardson said. “Both are important, but it is important for us to make sure that we get the appropriate reform to the multilateral while delivering the best assistance that we possibly can on the ground, and that’s often through bilateral.”
Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun claimed that the budget bolsters “country capacity to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks and to prevent epidemics from reaching our borders.”
“It also allows us to provide the necessary flexibility to respond to emerging global health threats such as the novel coronavirus and Ebola,” he said at the State Department. Biegun praised the State Department and USAID efforts in responding to the novel coronavirus.