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Friday
Apr012011

USAID Administrator: GOP Bill Could Kill 70,000 Kids

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- At least 70,000 children around the world could die if funding for global health programs is cut under the Republican budget proposal, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah warned Congress Thursday.

"What I worry about is that with the H.R. 1 budget [the proposed spending bill], if that becomes a baseline reality for fiscal year '12, that would be very problematic for some of our most important programs," Administrator Shah testified before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee.

"We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying," he said.

Shah said that 30,000 of those deaths would come if malaria control programs have to be scaled back, 24,000 would die from lack of support for immunizations, and another 16,000 would die at birth.

Shah's comments come as the Obama administration is fighting Congressional Republicans over how to fund the government this year. The impasse has led to the threat of a government shutdown.

Republicans have proposed significant cuts to the international affairs budget, 19 percent below 2010 enacted base levels, as part of an effort to reduce deficit spending.

"I believe there are ways to find the efficiencies we're all seeking, through being more businesslike in how we do our work, reining in contract partners and doing better program oversight. There's a way to do this that does not have to cost lives," Shah testified.

In her testimony before Congress last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the cuts, which would also hamper expanded efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, "would be devastating for our national security."

According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which lobbies to increase funding for international affairs, the Republican budget proposal would cut funding for global health programs by 11 percent, including a reduction in money for the Global fund for HIV/AIDS by 43 percent. The group says that would mean five million children would not receive malaria treatments and about 43,000 would not receive tuberculosis treatments.

The proposed budget would also decrease food aid programs by 30 percent and slash U.S. funding for disaster relief by 41 percent.

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