Kansas faith leader calls on U.S. Senators to support food security, fight AIDS

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Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 4:27 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One faith leader from Kansas has called on both of the state’s U.S. Senators to support global food security and the international fight against AIDS.

The ONE Campaign says that a group of faith leaders from across the nation - including a Kansas pastor - have arrived on Capitol Hill to gather support for programs to help low-income nations fight growing food, health and economic crises.

Dr. Rick Bartlett, who volunteers with the ONE Campaign, will meet with U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) to urge them to supply needed food assistance and reauthorize a key U.S. program to fight HIV and AIDS internationally.

“Hunger, natural disasters and the ongoing health and economic aftershocks of the pandemic pose serious threats to our fight to end extreme global poverty and preventable disease,” Bartlett said. “The time for Congress to act is now. We must keep moving toward the day that everyone, everywhere has the resources they need to lead a life of dignity and opportunity.”

When the new Congress is worn in in January, the Campaign said incoming and returning lawmakers will face a series of global challenges - each with a potential for widespread human suffering.

“The One Campaign has taken on a great mission to fight poverty and malnutrition, and improve public health around the world,” said Sen. Marshall. “It’s a mission I’ve shared as a member of Rotary since joining in 1991, and it has remained a priority for me throughout my time in Congress. Both PEPFAR and the Global Food Security Act have a rich history of bipartisanship, often passing under unanimous consent. In keeping with this spirit, I look forward to supporting reauthorization again through strong collaboration from both sides of the aisle.”

According to the Campaign, as many as 828 million people go to bed hungry each night. In Somalia, which it said is experiencing historic drought, one child is hospitalized for severe acute malnutrition each minute. After years in decline, it also said HIV and AIDS infections have risen in some parts of the globe and progress in other regions has significantly slowed.

“Sen. Moran greatly values Dr. Bartlett’s work to fight hunger and appreciates him coming to D.C. to discuss new opportunities to feed a hungry world,” a spokesperson for the Senator said. “Fighting hunger has been a top issue for Sen. Moran during his time in Congress, and as the co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, he will advocate for resources to fight hunger in the new Congress.”

The Campaign noted that ensuring the U.S. maintains its historic and bipartisan commitment to develop aid is of the utmost importance as world leaders hope to soften the impact of global challenges.

“Beyond being simply the right and just course of action, US development assistance has proven incredibly effective in lifting people out of poverty and preventing the spread of deadly diseases,” the leaders wrote in a letter to Congress. “Development aid helps create jobs, get children into school, modernize infrastructure, create stability and strategic partnerships, and improve lives and livelihoods, paving a path to a better future for all of us.”

In addition to advocation for development assistance, the faith leaders have also asked Congress to support two specific provisions:

  • The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act - Passed by the House of Representatives in September, it would provide both emergency aid and long-term support to address the root cause of food insecurity. With 50 million people in 45 countries on the brink of famine, it said reauthorization of the GFSA is critical.
  • PEPFAR Reauthorization - The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relieve will celebrate 20 years in 2023 and is up for reauthorization. It said the legislation is an integral part of the nation’s efforts to fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS internationally and has been credited with helping to save 20 million lives.

ONE Campaign said it is a global organization focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030 so that everyone, everywhere can lead a life of dignity and opportunity. The nonpartisan group pressures governments to do more to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease and empower citizens to hold their governments accountable.