#SOTU2013: Turning Pledges into Reality

If you blinked last night during the U.S. President's annual State of the Union address you might have missed it.

Three-quarters through President Obama's hour-long speech featured one paragraph on U.S. global development priorities over the next year:

"So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades, by connecting more people to the global economy, by empowering women, by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed and power and educate themselves, by saving the world's children from preventable deaths, and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach."

Much will be published, posted, and tweeted about President Obama's "#SOTU" last night and every paragraph -- including the one above -- will be parsed for all possible unspoken meanings and intentions. While there's no doubt the paragraph above is important -- especially given Obama didn't mention foreign aid, international development, or AIDS once in his 2012 address -- what really matters is what happens over the following months as important spending decisions are made.

Obama and his Administration are in the final weeks of deciding what their 2014 budget request will look like. One item they will decide is how much funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria will receive. Realizing an AIDS-free generation can only happen if the Global Fund is fully funded. The Fund will be looking for donors to replenish its funding this year, and the U.S. budget request in March will be one of the first indications from a major donor about what the Fund can expect to raise and achieve over the next three years. You can join our U.S. partners, RESULTS, and our friends at the ONE campaign in urging to keep the Fund at $1.65 billion for 2014.

You can also write letters to your members of Congress urging them write to and speak with the committee leaders who will determine foreign aid funding priorities and spending for 2014. The foreign aid funding bill, known as the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, is the most important annual legislative opportunity to increase resources for improving the health and livelihood of the poorest around the world. For global health, you can specifically ask your members of Congress to spend:

  • $1.65 billion for the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria;
  • $400 million for bilateral tuberculosis control efforts; and
  • $750 million for Maternal and Child Health, including $175 million for the GAVI Alliance for Childhood Vaccines, and $200 million for Nutrition

Find out more about how you can take this action.

The State of the Union is one night and one moment, but by taking simple actions like the ones above, we can help ensure promises turn into reality.