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Global health advocates call for African voices against Obama's budget cut

afrol News, 19 May - The Global Health Advocates have today made a call for the Pan-African voices to speak up against the US president's cut on the global health contribution.

In a press conference held today in Nairobi, global health advocates, including Global AIDS Alliance (GAA) executive director Dr Paul Zeitz, called for a pan-African response to fix the funding gap in President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget request submitted to the US Congress on 7 May 2009.

The health advocates called on all the people of Africa to raise their voices by contacting in-country representatives of the US government, including American Embassies, PEPFAR and USAID regional offices, local offices of the American Chambers of Commerce, and by email to President Obama at the White House in Washington, DC, to demand full funding of PEPFAR and the Global Fund.

The group pointed out that when president Obama released his US$3.6 trillion budget on 7 May, he broke two campaign promises and created a total shortfall of $3.3 billion in US support for global AIDS funding through US bilateral AIDS programmes, including PEPFAR, and for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. "President Obama also sent a message to world governments that it is acceptable to underfund global health, in particular the Global Fund," said Dr Zeitz, adding that, "The Global Fund is already facing a financial gap, and this will only make it worse by setting the wrong example."

"The people of Africa must speak out and tell President Obama, a son of Kenya, that he must meet his promises to those who are affected by HIV/AIDS," said James Kamau, of the Kenya Treatment Action Movement, Nairobi.

Also speaking at the press conference was Felix Mwanza of Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (Zambia). "It is not morally right for the President to cut down on the US global health contribution, especially on AIDS. Cutting the budget for global AIDS funding is tantamount to genocide, and Mr Obama shall be held accountable for deaths that will ensue," said Mr Mwanza, quoting from his Open Letter to President Obama, which was sent to the White House on 18 May.

GAA estimates that as a consequence of president Obama's broken promises on US bilateral AIDS programmes, one million people around the world won't receive treatment for AIDS and 2.9 million women won't receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The group further said with the underfunding, some 27 million people won't access sexual disease transmission prevention programmes, while 1.9 million orphans and other children affected by or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS won't receive care and support services.

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