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January 30, 2006


In the confusion of this post-Cold War, terrorist-troubled world, Congress is betting more and more foreign aid dollars on fighting that one common foe everyone can agree upon: infectious disease.

“Medicine can be a currency for peace” says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon and a force behind the change. Today that “currency” is near $4 billion — almost triple in real dollars what the U.S. was providing per year in 2001.

That increase parallels — and is energized by — efforts by private philanthropists like billionaire Bill Gates, who pledged Friday to triple his contributions to fight tuberculosis. Democrats have almost uniformly backed the shift. More striking has been rising support from Republicans, drawing in both the religious right and old-line fiscal conservatives who long have opposed more traditional development programs.

Faster, please.

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