An HIV education center in Kenya. “The U.S. has changed the face of the world, particularly in Africa."

Trump’s Cuts to Global Health Aid Could Prove Deadly

Americans aren’t the only ones whose health care could suffer at the hands of legislators in Washington.

An HIV education center in Kenya. “The U.S. has changed the face of the world, particularly in Africa.” Visual: khym54/Flickr/CC

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that if Congress approves even a modest fraction of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, the worldwide consequences will be dire: Starting next year, abortions would go up by close to 1 million, nearly 50,000 more people would become infected with HIV, and an additional 7,000 mothers and children would die in countries that receive health funding from the U.S.

Over the next 10 years, the president is seeking a 42 percent reduction for the State Department and a 27 percent cut to the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to a New York Times interactive graphic.

The budget cuts to global health in the 2018 fiscal year are “unprecedented,” Jennifer Kates, KFF’s director of global health and HIV policy, tweeted on June 13, the day the report was published online. While some members of Congress object to the size of the reductions, she added in an interview, the White House’s stance sends an isolationist message — in stark contrast to the generosity exemplified by President George W. Bush’s 2003 initiative called PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), which now includes efforts in 60 countries to control the HIV pandemic.

“The U.S. has changed the face of the world, particularly in Africa, in terms of its health outcomes in the last 15 years,” says Kates, one of the report’s co-authors. “What about the next 15? What happens with this administration will have a big impact on that.”

The report focused on four areas for which robust health data are available to support statistical models of budgetary outcomes — HIV infections, HIV deaths, and the number of people on antiretroviral drugs; new TB cases and deaths; family planning, including contraception for women and couples; and mother, newborn, and child deaths. The models, which the foundation developed in collaboration with the global research organization Avenir Health, then crunched data on funding changes collected by KFF.

Congress is about to consider the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1. This year more than ever, it seems, our lives and those of our global neighbors hang in the balance.