President Obama and the Global Fund: Love on the rocks?

“We’re perfect for each other”
 “I love a man who can commit”
 “I need to see you invest in this relationship”

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, it’s not surprising to hear phrases like this on the streets of DC.  But what is surprising is that they’re not coming from young couples in love—no, they’re coming from the mouths of global health advocates and campaigners.  So what’s with all the sentimental feelings and thinly veiled insecurity?

As it turns out, President Obama and his Administration are in the final weeks of deciding what their 2014 budget request will look like.  One of the many line items they’ll be debating is how much love (money) to give to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria—one of the most attractive and effective tools we have to fight these three diseases.  And now more than ever, we need you to weigh in on their relationship.

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President Obama and the Global Fund began as a great love story. After years of the US refusing to settle down, only ever making one-year funding commitments, Obama made the US’ first-ever multi-year commitment to the Fund in 2010, giving her the long-term stability she craved to help support life-saving programs across the developing world.  This multi-year commitment included a $1.65 billion request from Obama in 2013—the largest ever commitment from the US in one year, and a strong sign of love for the Fund.

valentine's card

After three years of bliss, however, there are signs that the relationship might be at risk.  In this budgetary environment, the Administration will be forced to make tradeoffs—and likely cuts—that make the Fund a target.  ONE and many of our partners are asking that the US hold its contribution for 2014 steady at $1.65 billion.  We’re asking this not only because it will help the Fund save lives; it’s also a particularly important year for the US to show leadership to other donors around the world, who will be debating their own commitments to the Fund over the next three years ahead of a global love-in (replenishment meeting) this fall.

When the US request comes out in March, it will be one of the first indications from a major donor about what the Fund can expect to raise and achieve over the next three years.  For the first time in decades, there are new tools and investment opportunities that suggest that, with scaled up funding, we could not only control but begin to defeat AIDS, TB, and malaria.  But with a cut to US funding, we will lose momentum against these diseases, in some cases allowing them to resurge in places where they are currently under control.

So this Valentine’s Day, we need you to help keep the love alive.  Help remind President Obama why he loves the Global Fund—all those lives she’s saved, all the smart reforms she’s put in place—and ask him to keep the Fund at $1.65 billion for 2014.

Sealed with a kiss,

Erin and the Global Health Team