Study: Federal Spending on Global Health a Boon for US Economy

(CN) – Research and development investments by the federal government into diseases like malaria, AIDS and Ebola have injected billions of dollars into individual state economies and created thousands of jobs, according to a new study.

Furthermore, proposed cuts by the Trump administration to global health research could negatively affect the U.S. economy, the analysis by advocacy group Global Health Technologies Coalition found.

The report builds on findings previously published by the coalition in a study titled “Return on innovation: Why global health R&D is a smart investment for the United States.”

The coalition, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that the U.S. government’s $14 billion investments in global health generated $33 billion in economic growth and created 200,000 new jobs between 2007 and 2015.

The Trump administration has proposed a 36 percent cut in global health programs and a 17 percent cut to a department within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that deals with infectious diseases in other countries, among other cuts.

“While the administration claims cuts to global health research are putting America first, the data suggest otherwise,” the coalition’s director Jamie Bay Nishi said.

“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.”

Of every dollar the U.S. government invests in global health R&D, 89 cents remain in the country, the researchers found.

The findings document how universities and other research institutions have benefited from investments, and private companies working on similar global health initiatives.

In California, investments in R&D brought more than $875 million to research institutions and created almost 12,000 new jobs, according to the research.

The study highlighted researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, who are developing a compound that attacks malaria parasites without harming human cells.

Malaria remains a major global health concern in the developing world, killing hundreds of thousands each year.

The spread of diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS has been vigorously studied and fought, but the researchers stressed how cuts in funding to study lesser known diseases could affect Americans, too.

Since 2010, for instance, there have been almost 800 cases of dengue fever in Florida.

And while the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa snatched headlines and generated an emergency response from the U.S., investment in R&D for the disease has been declining since 2012, the coalition found.

That outbreak killed more than 11,000 people, mostly in West Africa. There was one confirmed case reported in the U.S. which was quarantined. The U.S. government spent $3 billion in response to the epidemic.

Coalition director Nishi expressed hope that American lawmakers will reject the cuts.

“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,” she said.

 

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