Letter: Truth about foreign aid
Americans assume the United States government spends 28 percent of its budget on foreign aid (Kaiser Family Foundation 2013 survey), while they suggest 10 percent is the amount the government should spend (Gates Foundation).
Global health is not an issue that happens elsewhere. Diseases come home to roost as a consequence of international travel.
Not all disease comes from impoverished countries.
In 2011, we had a trade imbalance with France – it provided 11 to 13 of the 20 measles cases we imported.
We are not immune to what has driven the resurgence of measles cases in Europe. Measles is an unknown due to decades of effective immunizations. Fear-mongering suggests vaccine risks outweigh their benefit, but vaccine refusal neither protects you nor those around you.
Therefore, when measles knocks at the door, we now have enough unvaccinated children for it to spread among our own.
Vaccines have a tremendous return on investment – each dollar spent on vaccines returns $2.73 (chickenpox) to $27 (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) in savings in direct health costs (www.ecbt.org).
The Kaiser survey also revealed more than half of Americans appropriately feel that spending money in developing countries improves the health of Americans along with improving our image around the world.
So, in recognition of World Immunization Week, just how much of the United States gross domestic product is spent on foreign aid? About 1 percent. Of that 1 percent, less than a third is allocated to international programs involved in providing vaccines. We could do better, not just for them but for our own.
DAVID C. FREDENBURG