Though U.S. government involvement in addressing NTDs is led by a variety of programs across several federal agencies, Congress has an important role in determining the priorities of these agencies, namely in its work to shape the budget.
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“Every day, countless children are left disfigured, blinded, developmentally debilitated, and killed by NTDs. These diseases form a heartbreaking global health emergency... I share the Caucus’ goal of ending malaria deaths by 2015, and working to curb the spread of NTDs among our world’s most vulnerable.” – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), co-chair, Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
Congress first allocated funding specifically to NTD control efforts in FY2006, when they provided $15 million in funding. Nearly every year after that, Congress has demonstrated its leadership on this issue by increasing funding for NTD control, including its most decision to award $89 million in funding for FY2012, an increase of $12 over the FY2011 funding level.
However, in response to immense pressure to cut the federal budget, the Obama Administration only requested $67 million for NTD funding in FY2013. Then, in May, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2013 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, a new bill that supported $125 million funding for NTDs, a tremendous improvement over the President’s request. While the House Appropriations Committee has not yet specified a dollar amount for NTD control, they also released language praising the USAID NTD program.
This recent movement is an encouraging sign that Congress recognizes the record of success and cost-effectiveness of the USAID NTD program. Ongoing support on Capitol Hill is crucial because if the United States withdraws from its key position as a leader in the global fight against NTDs, the infection level could resurge -- undermining the important progress made and threatening the livelihoods of millions across the globe who are trying to overcome the vicious cycle of poverty and disease.
Caucuses and Working Groups
In both the House and the Senate, groups of legislators with an interest in pursuing legislative action around particular topics sometimes develop caucuses, working groups or task forces. Currently, there are groups working in both the House and the Senate on NTDs and related diseases.
Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Congressional Caucus on Malaria and NTDs is a bipartisan effort to raise awareness of United States’ and international community’s fight against malaria and NTDs. The group expanded in 2009 to address the NTDs as well as malaria, and it is chaired by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY).
Most recently, in October 2011 Congressman John Carter (TX) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO) joined the Caucus, bringing their invaluable leadership to this important cause. Currently, there are 51 members of the caucus. To view a list of members on the Congressional Caucus on Malaria and NTDs, click here.
The Congressional Global Health Caucus and the Senate Malaria Working Group address issues that are linked to NTDs as well.
- Kaiser Family Foundation: Funding for NTD Control Efforts
- Global Health Technologies Coalition: Public Financing for Global Health
- U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Budget Center (Information on the International Affairs Budget and Process)
- Congressional Research Service: Neglected Tropical Diseases Background, Responses and Issues for Congress
- Testimony of Dr. Neeraj Mistry before U.S. House of Representatives