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Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz
202.572.6302 (o)
202.615.2608 (c)

World Vision to Congress: Protect funding for global child health, AIDS programs that save lives


Aid agency calls for approval of Biden-Lugar Amendment
to restore crucial funding

Humanitarian groups also urge congress to pass Child Survival Act,
reauthorize PEPFAR at hearings


Washington, D.C., March 13, 2008—Congress’ proposed cuts to the U.S. international affairs budget for next year would risk the lives of impoverished children and families in developing nations, while diminishing America’s global humanitarian leadership and the fight against the world’s deadliest epidemics. World Vision backs an amendment offered by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) to restore $4.1 billion to the international affairs budget.

The Biden-Lugar amendment would restore U.S. funding to the level requested by the Bush Administration for fiscal year 2009. By contrast, the reduction proposed by the Senate Budget Committee represents the largest cut in a decade and would set the international affairs budget below its current level of $36.7 billion, jeopardizing life-saving programs. At a mere 1.3 percent of the entire federal budget, the international affairs budget funds essential diplomatic and development programs vital to protecting our national security, promoting economic prosperity here and abroad, and demonstrating American humanitarian values around the world.

The amendment is being considered on the same day that a Senate committee is marking up legislation to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and a House subcommittee is reviewing the Global Child Survival Act to help halt millions of deaths of children under age 5 each year.

"It is sadly ironic that on such a day, the Senate would so callously consider cutting programs that, for pennies a day, are saving children's lives and assisting those orphaned by AIDS,” said Robert Zachritz, director of advocacy and government relations for World Vision. “The budget process is where the rubber meets the road. Americans expect Congress to keep the United States' global promises.”

"We commend Senators Biden and Lugar for their amendment,” Zachritz added. “Their leadership both on the Senate Budget amendment and on crafting a bipartisan bill on global AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will help ensure America's promises of hope are matched by deeds."

Also today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a markup session on draft legislation that would reauthorize PEPFAR for five more years, following the bill’s preliminary approval by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs based on policy compromises reached in late February.

“Lawmakers have a moral obligation to reach a bipartisan, comprehensive agreement on this bill and increase funding to address the needs of millions of orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis,” said Craig Jaggers, World Vision’s health policy advisor in the U.S. “They must act quickly to ensure uninterrupted availability of treatment, care and prevention services for people in hard-hit nations, while including behavior-change programs that incorporate the valuable contribution of abstinence and faithfulness promotion.”

More than 15 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS and related illnesses, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. World Vision’s work focuses on assisting children and families made vulnerable by the pandemic. World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian agency, has been addressing the impact of AIDS for nearly two decades, starting with orphaned children in Rakai, Uganda. Today, the organization is fighting the spread and impact of AIDS in more than 60 nations—including PEPFAR-funded work in 14 countries, in partnership with other groups.

Among other life-saving foreign assistance packages at stake is the U.S. Global Child Survival Act (H.R. 2266, S. 1418), reviewed today by a House subcommittee and awaiting a Senate vote. More than 26,000 children each day die before reaching the age of 5, mostly due to preventable and treatable causes such as diarrhea, malnutrition and malaria. Most of these lives could be saved through simple, low-cost interventions.

A recent national poll commissioned by the U.S. Coalition on Child Survival showed more than eight in 10 Americans support expanding U.S. funding commitments to reduce child deaths around the world, regardless of their political affiliation. Almost all Americans put child survival as a top priority for U.S. foreign assistance, the poll showed.

“If we as a nation are serious about achieving what is right for children, then we will ensure passage of the Child Survival Act and champion the funding to make it a success,” said Dr. Anne Peterson, World Vision International’s director of global health. “Today we have an incredible opportunity to keep global promises, convey the compassion of the American people, provide global leadership to help others and strengthen U.S. relationships with other countries.”

Peterson testified today in favor of the bill at a hearing of the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health.

World Vision, a member of the U.S. Coalition on Child Survival, works in nearly 100 countries through child-focused, community-based programs to alleviate the root causes of poverty and injustice.

U.S. citizens can advocate with their congressional representatives and the President through the following web site: www.SeekJustice.org.

To schedule interviews, contact Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz at +1.202.572.6302 or +1.202.615.2608 or gryerson@worldvision.org.

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World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.
 

Who Is World Vision?

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice..



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