Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and experts in global health and international policy discussed reforming U.S. global health efforts in a forum held in Seattle on Thursday,
You can view a two-hour webcast of the event online here.
(LocalHealthGuide covered the event and will provide an summary of the discussion over the weekend.)
The forum focused on a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Commission on a Smart Global Health Policy.
The Washington, D.C.-based, CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 to find ways for America “to sustain its prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world.”
In the report, the commission’s 25-member expert panel argues that a “smart, strategic, long-term global health policy will advance America’s core interests” and “enhance America’s influence, credibility, and reservoir of global goodwill” while at the same time “save and lift the lives of millions worldwide.”
The panel recommends the U.S. adopt a five-point agenda for global health:
Maintain the commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
Funding for initiatives targeting these diseases is under threat due to the recession and concerns that money might be better spent on other efforts, such as child and maternal health and health systems strengthening.
U.S. leadership can ensure that “immediate budgetary woes do not derail our efforts,” the commission says and argues that by leveraging these “disease-focused investments” it will be possible to create “lasting health systems” and provide “long-term solutions.”
Prioritize women and children in U.S. global health efforts
The U.S. should double its annual investment in child and maternal health to $2 billion to expand models of care that have been proven effective, the commission says.
These investments should focus on a few core countries in Africa and South Asia, the commission says.
“Affordable tools exist to reduce infant deaths in the first month of life; expanded immunizations can improve child survival; and expanded access to contraceptives can bolster women’s health,” the commission says.
Strengthen prevention and capabilities to manage health emergencies
“Disease prevention offers the best long-run return on investment,” the commission concludes. Emerging health threats, such as infections disease outbreaks, require “long-range collaborative investments”, including making it possible for poor countries to have access to affordable vaccines and medications needed to combat pandemics.
Ensure the United States has the capacity to match our global health ambitions
In order to meet its potential, the U.S. needs a predictable, long-term global health plan, the commission argues. “An essential step is to forge a global health strategy, organized around a forward-looking commitment of about 15 years, careful planning, and long-term funding tied to performance targets,” the commission says.
Among its recommendations, the commission recommends that a deputy adviser at the National Security Council be charged with formulating a global health policy and promoting coordination and collaboration between government agencies involved in implementing global health programs.
In addition, the commission recommends the creation of an Interagency Council on Global Health to report to this deputy adviser as well as a senior global health coordinator to be located in the Office of the Secretary of State to coordinate day-to-day operations.
Make smart investments in multilateral institutions
While the U.S. will continue to put a strong focus on its own direct investments in global health, The commission urges the U.S. to “bolster its collaborations” with the World Health Organizations, the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and other international agencies.
“By pooling resources and efforts with others, the United States is better able to build health systems, extend the reach of vaccine and infectious disease programs beyond U.S. partner countries, devise alliances to meet trans-sovereign challenges, and mobilize resources and leadership among our partners.”
“If we pursue these steps,we can accomplish great things in the next 15 years,” the commission concludes, including:
- Cut the rate of new HIV infection by two-thirds
- End the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis
- Significantly expand access to contraceptives.
- Reduce by three-quarters of the 500,000 mothers who die each year in pregnancy
- Save over 2.6 million newborns from dying in the first month of life.
- And significantly reduce the more than 2 million deaths of children under five years of age caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.
The panel for the Seattle conference included:
- Governor Christine Gregoire
- Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State
- Dana Hyde, Senior Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew
- Dr. Tadataka (Tachi) Yamada, President, Global Health Program, Gates Foundation
- Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, Director, Global Health Delivery, Gates Foundation
- Dr. Chris Elias, President and CEO, PATH
- Admiral William J. Fallon, US Navy (Retired)
- Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE
- Dr. John Hamre, President and CEO, Center for Strategic and International Studies