Letter: International aid as a response to national discouragement

Letter: International aid as a response to national discouragement

I suspect that many Northeastern students have been in a state of despondence since Tuesday’s results. Even if one is in agreement with the general philosophies of the Republican Party, it must be troubling to see conservative principles take a backseat to bullying, fear-mongering and a lack of interest in national policy. If one’s values are more progressive, there are a variety of horrifying implications that the impending Trump administration presents to this country. To me, one of the most upsetting potential consequences of Nov. 8 is that the Affordable Care Act might be repealed without any real replacement plan on the horizon. Regardless of your opinion or understanding of Obamacare, the prospect of 20 million Americans suddenly losing coverage must be disturbing.

But even in this dark moment, we must remember that the United States (as a rich and powerful nation) has the privilege of essentially being free from widespread preventable death. This is not the case in many developing nations. Even if they evade certain diseases that claim millions of lives every year (and are curable with simple drugs), many of our fellow citizens of the world die only because they are poor – and therefore have little access to clean water, sufficient nutrition or medical care. Every day, 830 women die in pregnancy or childbirth in ways that Americans never would. Every minute, 11 children die in the same ways.

As you might know, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the arm of our national government that provides economic and humanitarian assistance around the globe. It manages $2.9 billion in grants and has the ability to do widespread, life-saving work for these mothers and children. In order to hold USAID accountable for the international goal that was set to end preventable child deaths by 2035, a bipartisan team of U.S. congressmen introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act in 2015. The bill, officially H.R.3706 in the House and S.1911 in the Senate, requests no new funding for USAID; instead, it establishes a new position in the agency called the Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator and puts into law a number of measures to ensure that USAID’s existing funds are used in effective and evidence-based ways to improve the plight of our world’s most vulnerable populations.

The bill now has 25 co-sponsors in the Senate and 200 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, which represents a significant amount of support. However, neither Sen. Elizabeth Warren nor Rep. Seth Moulton (who represents neighboring Essex County) are on those lists, and I believe that they should be. Soon, the bill could reach the point of co-sponsorship that would make it impossible to ignore. Warren and Moulton can be a part of the groundswell that gets this bill to a vote and gets it passed.

At this crossroads for our country, we have the opportunity to remain divided and self-centered, or we have the opportunity to shift our focus and commit to compassion and generosity on the international stage. If we want to be great again, this is a perfect place to start.

-Anthony Formicola is a junior behavioral neuroscience major.

Photo courtesy US Army Africa, Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Leave a Reply