The U.S. government has been an integral leader in the fight against extreme poverty globally, investing in life-saving humanitarian and development needs. The needs remain enormous.
About 65.3 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide by violent conflicts and natural disasters like drought and famine. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. More than 795 million people lack sufficient food and 3.1 million children die each year due to malnutrition. According to UNAIDS, in 2015, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV.
The new president is expected to release his budget request in February, and the Congress will soon move into its budget and appropriations season determining how much funding goes into various humanitarian and poverty-focused assistance and peacebuilding accounts. Support from both parties will be needed to set a more robust foreign assistance agenda.
The global health programs expand basic health services, especially for women, children and vulnerable populations. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which began under President George W. Bush, has provided HIV and AIDS drugs to millions of people in developing countries. The U.S. government’s contribution to the Global Fund has helped to fund life-saving treatments for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as prevention programs.
These programs can help amplify the efforts of organizations such as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). MCC provides support for primary health promotion projects focused on preventative health strategies, including maternal and child health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment and response to gender-based violence.
In Jos, Nigeria, for example, MCC supports the Faith Alive clinic to offer free prenatal services and health care services (prevention, treatment and control) to people with HIV and AIDS, making health care accessible to the most vulnerable, especially youth, infants, pregnant women and mothers.
As one of the world’s wealthiest nations, the U.S. has a moral obligation to lead the world in addressing global poverty and confronting the pandemic of diseases. The new president’s budget and congressional appropriations will reflect the priorities of not only the new administration but also the values of the American people who elected them.
For us as Christians, beyond the language of humanitarian and development investment is the language of love of Jesus, which defines our values as followers of Christ. Our love for others motivates our intentions for giving, and it is the greatest act (1 Corinthians 13).
1 Timothy 2:1-2 calls us to pray unceasingly for our elected officials in their discharge of duties. We can also encourage policymakers to transcend partisan differences and institutional motivations by investing in poverty-focused foreign assistance (Proverbs 31:8-9).