Senate Punts on Anti-Malaria Initiative

| 13 Sep 2007
Africa Fighting Malaria

On September 6, 2007, the US Senate rejected an attempt by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to restore $30 million in anti-malaria funding requested by the Bush Administration for its President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). Coburn sought to amend the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008 (which begins October 1, 2007). The funding was requested based on USAID and PMI projections for what is needed to continue, and begin ratcheting up, anti-malaria projects in designated focus countries in Africa, using integrated vector control management (long-lasting bednets, up-to-date combination drug therapies, indoor residual spraying where appropriate, and special initiatives for pregnant women).

The Administration had requested $300 million for the PMI for fiscal year 2008, but the House of Representatives approved only $270 million: the Senate had not specified a PMI amount for 2008, but the overall totals it provides for anti-malarial and African health initiatives, coupled with its specific commitments of funds elsewhere, implied a number similar to what the House approved.

While there still may be an opportunity to restore the $30 million in a conference agreement, this is a significant setback for PMI. This is unfortunate, as PMI is largely an operation of USAID, which got highest marks in AFM's Donor Scorecard rating anti-malaria initiatives from a variety of government agencies, worldwide. It is also to be regretted that the vote against the additional $30 million broke down almost exactly along party lines (Republican for, Democrats against), whereas efforts to boost anti-malaria funding, and to reform some of the bad habits USAID had demonstrated in the past, have received strong bipartisan support up to now. Indeed there was only one deviation from party lines in the vote, with Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) voting against the Coburn amendment. No Democrats voted for the amendment.