Sunday, December 21, 2008

"The U.S. Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the New Administration"

This new report by a distinguished panel of experts calls for significantly intensifying U.S. governmental commitment to global health in the next four years by increasing funding and placing greater importance on health when setting overall U.S. foreign policy.
A key aspect of U.S. global health funding should be producing a balanced portfolio of aid. Over the past decade, the U.S. government's annual overseas development assistance for health has increased, reaching an all-time high of $7.5 billion in 2008. To date, between PEPFAR -- the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- and contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the U.S. government has spent over $18 billion combating AIDS. These health initiatives are lauded achievements that have brought life-saving drugs and HIV prevention strategies to millions. However, between 2004 and 2008, over 70 percent of U.S. global health funds were allocated to AIDS programs, while funds for chronic disease programs were virtually nonexistent, despite the fact that chronic, noncommunicable diseases now account for more than half of all deaths in low- and middle-income countries.

To ensure balanced and strategic U.S. global health efforts, the report recommends creation of a White House Interagency Committee on Global Health -- composed of heads of major federal departments and agencies involved in global health -- and designation of a senior White House official at the level of deputy assistant to the president to chair the Interagency Committee. The deputy assistant should serve as the primary White House adviser on setting U.S. global health policy and should work with the national security adviser, the director of management and budget, and the president's science adviser.

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