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October 2009


Major accomplishments in global health over the last decade demonstrate that adequately resourced programs, focused on achieving specific results, can improve health outcomes for millions and support economic progress. They also show that distinct public health challenges are closely interconnected and that a comprehensive and integrated strategy is needed to ensure that ambitious health goals are met.

The next step forward in US global health must be defined by significantly expanded investments, a bold vision of what U.S. assistance can accomplish, and building on successful programs to increase effectiveness and self-sufficiency at the country level. Based on these lessons learned, the United States, through a Global Health Initiative, should:

  • Double U.S. aid for global health to approximately $16 billion per year in 2011 and challenge other donors to similarly scale up their investments;
  • Establish bold U.S. targets for improved health outcomes in each of the six GHI areas and contribute our fair share to reach the healthrelated Millenium Development Goals; and
  • Ensure that as we invest in programs to scale up health for all, we build on successful programs and fulfill existing commitments.

The Global Health Initiative

President Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) represents an historic opportunity to achieve bold and ambitious targets in the fight against the most daunting global health challenges of our generation. Alongside related efforts to reform U.S. foreign assistance and to coordinate various initiatives that populate the global health landscape, the GHI is an important signal of the intention of the U.S. government to expand its leadership on global health. At a moment of global economic downturn, we recall the Institute of Medicine’s statement from earlier this year that global health programs “play a crucial role in the broader mission of U.S. foreign policy to reduce poverty, build stronger economies, promote peace, and enhance the U.S. image in the world today.”

Currently the GHI consists only of a limited number of known elements; fundamental aspects such as scope, targets, timelines, and specific costing data have yet to be finalized. The language of a broad and realistic vision of what the U.S. can accomplish, however, is encouraging.

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