In college, I signed up to join the One campaign to end extreme poverty. They were the only people I knew in America talking about my friends’ day to day problems back home in Africa, and they were mobilizing a grassroots campaign to voice those concerns to people in power. The One campaign has advocated for funding for programs that provide life saving medication for the world’s poorest people suffering from preventable diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis for example. The life-saving funding accounts to less than 1% of the total American annual budget, but that 1% is part of the budget sequestration that began yesterday.
Now, I don’t know the ins and outs of American economic policy. I hear we’re in deep trouble and there need to be drastic changes. What I do know is the real impact this 1% has had on the lives of many of my friends in Africa. If not for that 1%, people I know and love would have died of HIV/AIDS without diagnosis and without treatment. Without that 1%, their access to HIV medication will be stopped. Without that 1%, ongoing village education programs aimed at preventing HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis transmission will end.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of economic policy, and I’m not pretending to be a master strategist here. But, receiving the following cartoon in my inbox this morning affected me – because I do know part of the human impact of 1%.
Equal cuts don’t have equal impact. For the world’s poorest, these cuts can mean the difference between life and death:
171,900 people would not have AIDS medication, resulting in 39,200 deaths and 77,200 more children becoming orphans
1.2 million fewer insecticide-treated mosquito nets, leading to over 3,200 deaths from malaria
836,800 fewer pentavalent vaccines would be available for children, resulting in 8,900 more deaths from completely preventable diseases
There is lots of talk right now about how sequestration will affect a huge number of programs, but this is one of the few in which people’s lives are actually at risk. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1 percent of our national budget. These lifesaving programs should be protected and prioritized.
Is this post more a call to action or lament? I’m honestly not sure.