NY Times Opinion Page
Benefits of Foreign Aid
To the Editor:
“Foreign Aid Faces Major Cutbacks in Budget Crisis” (front page, Oct. 4) worried me because, in my eight years as a global health ambassador, I have learned that we live in an interconnected world.
In 13 trips around the world, I have personally seen that defeating public health threats like malaria, H.I.V./AIDS and tuberculosis and empowering reproductive health do not just enrich lives abroad, but also have a direct impact on the quality of American lives at home.
At less than 1 percent of the federal budget, investments in foreign aid strengthen the United States economy. Nearly 50 percent of American exports go to the developing world. One in three domestic manufacturing jobs depends on these exports. Such statistics are critical when, in my home state of Tennessee alone, unemployment is nearly 10 percent.
By investing in public health, American taxpayers are giving men and women the chance to live more productive lives and participate in the global economy.
And when that happens, everyone — from Mombasa to Manhattan — benefits.
Franklin, Tenn., Oct. 6, 2011
The writer is the actress and a board member of PSI, a global health organization.