This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indianapolis has been selected to host the entirety of the 64 team college basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness. About 47 million people - one in five American adults - bet a combined $8.5 billion on March Madness in 2019. The last COVID-19 relief bill passed by congress, however, only included $4 billion in investment to global vaccine access and distribution.
It's a big number, yes, but it pales in comparison to what is needed. Without action, by 2022, COVID-19 could result in an additional 9.3 million severely malnourished and 2.6 million stunted children, and 168,000 additional child deaths. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was one of the first and fastest organizations to get financial resources to governments to address COVID-19 and has awarded $1 billion to 106 countries. But the Global Fund has been stretched thin, and more funds are needed to continue COVID-19 response programs and to keep their regular programs going.
I call on Representative Andre Carson, as well as Senator Todd Young and Senator Mike Braun, to speak to leadership of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees and fight for $4 billion for the Global Fund and $2 billion for anti-hunger/ malnutrition efforts in the next COVID-reponse bill. It's less than we'll bet on basketball.