A call to action

In my final note as WGHA’s executive director, rather than reflect on the progress we’ve made together over the past decade, I’d like to look ahead and offer a specific ask of each of you. Our global health community is facing potentially seismic shifts in the coming years that could impact virtually every organization in our state’s global health ecosystem. The prospective impact on the people we partner with and serve is enormous.

Twenty-eight percent. That’s the budget cut the Trump administration is proposing to the State Department and USAID. Twenty percent is the cut called for to the Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The White House’s 2018 budget proposal, released this week, calls for $15.1 billion in cuts to basic research. It also calls for funding to be eliminated for the Fogarty International Center at NIH, and the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI). There is a sliver of good news: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Program for Aids Relief) and the Faster Cures cancer program were spared.

Despite the terrifying forecast, I am optimistic. We all have the power to influence the outcome, since Congress will have the final say.

This is where you come in.

Whether or not your organization has a government affairs team, it is incumbent upon every one of us individually to make the case to our representatives and senators about the importance of our work.

WGHA is working on your behalf to make the case to our state’s federal delegation about the collective impact of your efforts—from developing new drugs and vaccines, new ways of tracking disease, and programs to keep mothers and children safe and pandemics at bay. We’re providing monthly updates to our state’s congressional delegation.

When you make your call, you can provide details from the WGHA Landscape Study to help make the case. We have 168 global health organizations in Washington State working in 151 countries on more than 5,000 projects. Our organizations get most of their funding from US government agencies, including NIH, USAID, CDC, and the Department of Defense, along with private contributions from foundations and individuals. We have about 13,000 direct jobs in Washington State and contribute nearly $6 billion to the state’s economy.

If you want to find more ways to engage and more data to support the case, check out the US Global Leadership Coalition, the Global Health Technologies Coalition, and the Global Health Council.

These organizations and others are working to advocate nationally on behalf of the global health and global development communities. We want to leverage their efforts, not be duplicative.

WGHA’s role is rooted in this community. Share your stories with us so we can pass the news of your work in a cohesive narrative that provides the total impact of all of our work for our legislators.

Just don’t leave it up to someone else. We all have a stake in this fight.

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