Last summer the New York Times and the Pew Global Attitudes Project released a poll that showed that Africans were "wary but hopeful" about their future and the future of the continent. With devastating poverty, a massive AIDS epidemic and political strife, their hope seems remarkable. And it is this hope and their hard work, coupled with increased efforts by the U.S., which are making Africa a better place. Still, much more must be done.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 11 percent of the world's population and only three percent of the world's health care workers. It suffers nearly half of the world's deaths from infectious diseases and bears nearly two-thirds of the world's HIV burden.
Thankfully, due to global leadership, over $7 billion has been distributed to 136 counties through the Global Fund in just 5 years. This program expands our ability to fight AIDS, TB and malaria -- a devastating but treatable and preventable disease. To date, every dollar committed by the US has been matched and doubled by contributions from other donors. The Global Fund needs to be expanded so we can continue to invest in the future of the continent by ensuring Africans have access to basic health care. This is a priority of mine and of ONE.
While I don't agree with the president about much, we both feel that improving access to health care is one of the most important things our country can provide to the people of Africa. He has made good on his commitment by proposing to spend $30 billion over five years to combat global AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). I'm proud of this program and will work in the Senate to make sure that it is not only funded but expanded.
We are making strides, and we should be proud of our work to date, but we must continue to challenge ourselves to do more.
This post was cross posted from the ONE Blog today.