The United States needs to shift from providing global health aid to investing in global health, says Secretary of State Clinton. “America’s investments in global health are saving lives. They are making us more secure, and advancing our values. But it is a shared responsibility. Every nation—partner countries and donors alike—needs to invest in health. It’s one of the surest steps to build the safer, fairer world that we all want,” writes Secretary Clinton in her OpEd for Global Health and Diplomacy.
She explains how the US will make this shift and why it will be successful.
Through our global health diplomacy, we’ve helped bring new partners to the table and keep old partners at the table; while we’ve committed $4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria since 2009, other donors have committed $7 billion.
We’re breaking down the walls that used to divide our teams and—even more importantly—integrating the health services that patients need. For example, we’re supporting a cadre of health workers in rural Malawi who travel door-to-door to provide a range of services, including HIV testing and counseling, nutrition evaluations, family planning, and tuberculosis screening.
We’re also seeing more low- and middle-income countries investing more in the health of their people. Earlier this year, USAID worked with India and Ethiopia to bring together 80 countries to agree on a roadmap for ending preventable childhood deaths. Together, we made concrete commitments on five specific strategies—from focusing our funding on the hardest-hit populations to spurring new research and innovation—that will accelerate our progress so that, one day, every child will get to celebrate her fifth birthday.
And our efforts to promote country ownership are paying off. PEPFAR, for example, is shifting out of emergency mode and starting to build sustainable health systems. It’s hard to overstate what a seismic shift this has been. Earlier this year I visited South Africa, where we agreed on a series of steps that put South Africa firmly in the lead of the fight against AIDS while committing both countries to expand prevention, care, and treatment to more people. By taking the lead, the South African government is ensuring that its national strategy will be sustainable and even more responsive to the specific needs of different communities. We want to see more of our partner countries take a similar leading role when they’re ready.
All this work is delivering real results. With our partners, we’re providing life-saving HIV treatment to 4.5 million people—an increase of more than 160 percent since 2008. In the same time period, the number of people receiving malaria-prevention measures is up to 58 million, an increase of 132 percent. The maternal mortality rate in our partner countries has dropped 15 percent in the past four years, and it’s on track to drop a total of 26 percent by next year.
Of course, putting these principles into practice hasn’t always been easy. There have been bumps along the way. We’ve seen more progress in some places than others. But our mission remains the same: to keep making gains together and spread them to more people in more places. So we will continue to work with our partners on country plans that maximize the impact of all our investments.
We are also elevating the critical role that global health diplomacy plays in making sure that these gains continue. The State Department is establishing a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy, led by an Ambassador-at-Large, that will bring the full force of U.S. diplomacy to advancing our global health goals. That means encouraging other donors to maintain or expand their contributions; engaging with partner countries as they work to meet their responsibilities; and coordinating with international health organizations, civil society, the private sector, faith-based organizations and foundations. The office will also support our ambassadors, giving them the information and tools they need to have a greater impact where the real health care work is actually happening.
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