On February 6, 2006 the President proposed a budget freeze for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2007 which will hold its funding steady at $26.6 billion. Most of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers will ge a slight cut under the President’s plan. The budget designates $4.75 billion for the National Cancer Institute which is a $40 million cut from fiscal year (FY) 2006.
The following quote if from the article “NIH Faces a Tough Budget Year” by Jocelyn Kaiser on the ScienceNOW Daily News web site:
“We’re not in a position to do as much as many of us would like,” said Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, at a budget briefing today. When asked why biomedicine was not included among the science agencies funded by the president’s American Competitiveness Initiative, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni explained that the physical sciences are “complementary” to NIH’s mission. “I don’t think biomedicine is necessarily less urgent … but you have to make choices that are not necessarily going to make everybody happy.”
The FY 2007 NCI funding comes on top of the hard cut it received in the FY 2006 budget. The 2006 budget gave a slight increase to NIH and NCI but when the one percent across the board cut to domestic discresionary programs enacted is factored in the increase becomes a decrease. Go here to read a previous post on the FY 2006 budget.
Congress took a bold step forward in 1998 when it promised to double the NIH budget within five years. Congress kept that promise and opend the floodgates to countless new opportunities and advances in cancer research and programs. The result is that cancer survivorship rates have steadily increased each year and for the first time since 1930 the number of cancer deaths in the United States decreased in 2003.
This research momentum will not continue without a stable and reasonable level of funding increases. Less funding translates into fewer discoveries, fewer new drugs in development, and fewer new treatments reaching patients.
In 2003 I made my first visit to Washington, D.C. to talk to my Senators and Representative as a part of the One Voice Against Cancer Lobby Day. One of the speakers quoted the President as saying, “In order to win the war against cancer we must fund the war against cancer.” I want to see deeds not just hear words.
Making cancer a national priority will save millions of lives, reduce untold suffering, and save the nation billions of dollars in healthcare costs now and in the future. The investment is surely worth it.