PATH concerned about funding cuts to global health security in US budget deal

March 25, 2024 by PATH

The following is a statement regarding the FY24 budget signed by President Biden.

As we mark the fourth anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, dramatic cuts to global health security reveal a short-sighted response to a difficult budget situation. Over the weekend, President Biden signed into law the fiscal year 2024 budget; a move that prevented a government shutdown but also cut funding for many budget priorities in order to reach a bipartisan deal.

While PATH welcomes passage of this budget to ensure continued funding for lifesaving global health programs around the world, including for maternal and child health, immunizations, HIV/AIDs, and malaria, we are concerned about substantial cuts to the global health security account at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). COVID-19 demonstrated the critical need for ongoing investment in systems that strengthen both the domestic and global response to emerging infectious diseases.

“It was just four years ago this month that the world went into lockdown as we faced one of the deadliest pandemics in our history, and yet, this budget includes significant cuts to the programs that keep us safe from future global health threats,” said Heather Ignatius, PATH’s Chief of External Affairs.

“While we recognize the challenging financial constraints imposed on this year’s budget negotiations, slashing global health security funding by $200 million is a short-sighted and dramatic step in the wrong direction. These programs provide critical services that strengthen disease detection and surveillance and, ultimately, stop deadly outbreaks from becoming full-blown health crises. Congress’s decision to remove funding will make it harder for the country to respond to the next global health crisis, putting Americans and people around the world at greater risk.”

In addition to funding, this bill also provided a one-year authorization for the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). While PATH applauds this signal of continued US leadership and commitment to addressing HIV/AIDs, we continue to call on Congress to pass a clean multi-year reauthorization of this important program.

PATH also applauds Congressional champions for taking a smart first step in investing in cross-cutting initiatives that will work across disease and health areas through the new global health workforce line. While modest, this is an important step in support of primary health care and the workforce needed to deliver essential health programs. We also congratulate Congress for fighting hard for moms and children around the world, including through an overall increase of the maternal and child health funding line, though we recognize more is needed to finish the job.

“We were pleased to see that Gavi received increased funding and that Congress continues its decades of bipartisan support in lifesaving maternal and child health programming,” said Ignatius. “Unfortunately, $5 million of the increase to Gavi has come at the expense of USAID’s core maternal and child health funding, which provide critical services that strengthen the health systems Gavi relies upon to deliver vaccines. PATH advocates will continue to call on Congress to invest fully in both USAID’s maternal and child health programming and Gavi to ensure more women and children have access to lifesaving care.”

PATH remains committed to advocating with the Administration and Congress to protect and support these lifesaving accounts.