Roundup: What will sweeping budget cuts do to health and research efforts?

Over the past few weeks—as Congress worked on a budget deal to keep the federal government running through the end of March 2013—several global health and international development groups released new reports about what looming, across-the-board cuts would do to these programs worldwide. Groups are worried about the likely devastating impact of sequestration on US-funded global health, research, science, and development programs.

Sequestration would require a reduction in government spending of $109 billion per year for nine years, beginning in January 2013. It’s expected that the resulting indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts would result in a 9.4 percent cut for most defense programs relevant to global health—including global health research and development (R&D) programs at the Department of Defense (DoD). Non-defense programs—including most programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the State Department, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—that are not exempt from cuts would receive an 8.2 percent cut.

Some groups are worried about the likely devastating impact of sequestration on US-funded global health, research, science, and development programs.

Below, we provide a round-up of some of these new analysis pieces, detailing the human impact of these sweeping cuts.

  • In an updated analysis, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, recalculated its estimates on the human impact of budget sequestration on global health. The analysis finds that as the result of sequestration, HIV/AIDS treatment for 276,500 people worldwide will not be available, potentially leading to 63,000 more AIDS-related deaths and 124,000 more children becoming orphans. In addition, 112,500 fewer HIV-positive pregnant women will receive services to prevent transmission to their children, leading to more than 21,000 infants being infected with HIV. The analysis finds that 2.2 million fewer insecticide-treated nets will be procured, leading to nearly 6,000 deaths due to malaria, and that 60,000 fewer people with tuberculosis will receive treatment, leading to 7,000 more deaths from the disease.
  • A new analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that sequestration would “no doubt have significant impacts on federal funding of science, research, and innovation.” The analysis aims to provide a complete picture of the size of these potential cuts by estimating budget impacts for most key R&D agencies, and the funding ramifications by state, over the next five years. It found that the NIH could receive a cut of $11.3 billion over five years, averaging $2.3 billion less per year for research. The DoD could average $6.7 billion less for R&D per year, while the National Science Foundation could receive $2.1 billion less over five years. Total cuts through fiscal year 2017 would amount to $57.5 billion. “The resulting R&D budgets at most agencies would be lower than they’ve been in several years,” according to AAAS.
  • Bread for the World has released a document that details the impact of sequestration on the international affairs budget. It finds that sequestration would result in reductions to international affairs funding that would entail about $1.7 billion in cuts to poverty-focused development accounts, including a $670 million cut to global health programs. These cuts would mean “[m]ore lives would be needlessly lost due to infectious disease and more children would be born HIV-positive,” according to the analysis.
  • Research!America has also released an updated analysis on how sequestration would affect health research and science at key US agencies. Based on fiscal year 2012 numbers, the report finds that the NIH could lose $2.5 billion, the CDC could lose $479 million, and the FDA could lose $318 million for their R&D efforts. Sequestration would ultimately put health research “at the breaking point,” according to the report.

With most members of Congress gearing up for the November elections, we hope that they’re paying attention to these reports and listening to the chorus of voices calling for a real, long-term solution to the budget.  Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have been taking about foreign assistance lately, and the issue will stay on the candidates’ minds as they participate in an upcoming debate focused on international issues. Preventing sequestration needs to be a priority in these conversations.

Kim Lufkin is the GHTC’s communications officer.

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3 Responses to Roundup: What will sweeping budget cuts do to health and research efforts?

  1. Pingback: Blog summarizes analyses examining possible effects of sequestration on global health, science research

  2. Pingback: Celebrating the birthday of Breakthroughs: The best of the GHTC blog | Global Health Technologies Coalition Blog

  3. Pingback: A chorus of voices across the government calls for a solution to sequestration | Global Health Technologies Coalition Blog

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