So, Why Should YOU Care About Global Health Research and Development?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve written a considerable amount about global health R&D and the methods and partnerships that help bring better health to millions around the world.

Perhaps, while reading one of those posts, you’ve thought that the situation sounded too irrelevant, the location too remote for it to be of consequence to the average American. Quite the contrary: Global health R&D does matter to Americans. In state polling conducted by Research!America, 72% of Georgia residents think Americans should be concerned about diseases that mostly affect poorer countries; in Illinois, 75% thought so; and in New Jersey, 79% thought so.

If numbers don’t sway you, a recent blog post from the Global Health Technologies Coalition might. GHTC interviewed four people with familiar names and titles; each underscores the importance of global health to America.

Amie Batson, deputy assistant administrator and deputy to the administrator for the Global Health Initiative at USAID: “I think the world of global health and America’s ability to have an impact on it really epitomizes the best of what America is – the ‘we can make a difference’ view that Americans bring.”

Margaret Hamburg, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration: “Eighty percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in drugs that we take – the thing that really makes a difference in the drug – come from other countries. The complex global supply chains, the complex global scientific research functions and the fact that products come from all over the world and are used here in the United States means that we want to make sure that health standards and capabilities in those other countries are at the level that we would like to, frankly, see here.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA): “Millions of people cross international borders every day. They’re carrying diseases with them. The United States is not insulated from diseases and the rest of the world. We have to care about the rest of the world because if we don’t, those diseases will eventually wind up in our own country.”

Whoopi Goldberg, comedian and talk show host: “AIDS doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what your affiliation is – doesn’t care if you’re Republican, doesn’t care if you’re gay or straight or a little bitty baby. If it gets you, it gets you.”

Goldberg’s point served as an excellent segue; the interviews were posted the day before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Her topic? Creating an AIDS-free generation.

“But let’s remind ourselves no institution in the world has done more than the United States Government,” she said. “We have produced a track record of excellence in science. Researchers right here at the NIH conducted pivotal research that identified HIV and proved that it did cause AIDS. The first drug to treat AIDS was supported by the United States. Today we are making major investments in the search for a vaccine; for tools like microbicides, which give women the power to protect themselves; and other lifesaving innovations.”

We pay for it, and we benefit from it, despite its far-flung sounding name. Global health research benefits us all.

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