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Global Health R&D Cuts Threaten U.S. Economy, Jobs

Children receiving vaccine

School children in Ghana line up to receive an oral vaccine to protect against river blindness. (USAID.gov)

2 May 2018. An analysis of the impact of proposed cuts in funds for research and development on technologies to address global health needs shows the U.S. economy benefits directly from this spending, including support of many jobs in nearly all states. A report by the Global Health Technologies Coalition documenting the economic impact in each state was released yesterday in Washington, D.C.

The group notes that the Trump administration proposes for the next (2019) fiscal year, wholesale reductions in agencies and programs supporting international health. The proposed cuts include a 36 reduction in global health programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development, compared to 2018 levels. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would see a 16 percent reduction in its global health programs, including a 17 percent cut in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases addressing some of the most serious outbreaks in recent years. Likewise, National Institutes of Health expects a 9 percent cut in the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases that funds research into diseases including like malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Zika.

In a related analysis issued last year, Global Health Technologies Coalition estimates between 2007 and 2015, the U.S. government spent $14 billion, an amount eclipsed by Medicare outlays for elderly health care during that time totaling more than $1 trillion. During that time including earlier years to 2000, says the group, U.S. government spending resulted in 42 approved products for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Also, in the late-stage pipeline are 103 drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for neglected disease, 14 products for women’s health, and 11 products for Ebola and related viral hemorrhagic fevers.

While many of these products are expected to be used outside the U.S., particularly in low-resource regions, Global Health Technologies Coalition calculates much of that spending goes directly into American communities. The group estimates that in 2015, 89 cents of every U.S. government dollar allocated on global health R&D was spent in the U.S. In 2015 that level of spending translated to $1.5 billion, and for the years 2007 to 2015, that amount totaled $12 billion. In that 2007 to 2015 period, according to the group, U.S. government spending on global health R&D generated some 200,000 jobs, producing an additional $33 billion in indirect economic activity.

In its new update, Global Health Technologies Coalition calculated the number of jobs created in each state between 2007 and 2015 from U.S. government spending on international health R&D. Maryland, with headquarters of U.S. health agencies NIH and FDA, is most affected, with more than 30,700 job created. Large states like California with some 11,800 jobs and New York with more than 9,800 jobs also benefit a great deal. But even smaller, largely rural states like Iowa also created more than 450 jobs during this period from global health R&D spending.

“U.S. funding for global health research is not only saving lives worldwide, it’s also paying significant economic and health dividends across American states,” says Jamie Bay Nishi, director of Global Health Technologies Coalition in a statement. “Slashing funding for global health research will not only mark a retreat from America’s humanitarian and moral leadership in the world, it will also put the health of U.S. citizens at risk and harm the economies of states.”

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