“Our primary mission at HHS is to keep Americans healthy and safe.” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius opened this week’s announcement of the Department’s first ever global health strategy by reminding everyone that global health is America’s health. Putting global health into perspective, Sebelius stated, “diseases can spread faster and more unpredictably than ever before. As recently as 1963, just 26,000 passengers came through the Dulles Airport. In 2010, 6.4 million international passengers passed through Dulles. More than a million people drive across our borders, dock in our ports or land in our airports every day and any one of them can bring a new virus or bug. And it’s not just people – two-thirds of our food supply is imported. We must take a global approach to improving Americans’ health. The US can and should play an active effort in shaping a healthy world. Health is an issue that aligns all countries around the world.”
The strategy lays out three main goals and ten objectives for global health engagement, reflecting its efforts to prioritize and maximize results. As Nils Daulaire, HHS responded to an audience member’s question on implementation of a bold strategy in this economic and political climate, “the tighter things are, the more important it is to have a strategy that helps us deal with where we are now.” This report helps us show how we’re all working together in an integrated way and making the best investments possible. During the briefing, panelists praised the strategy for its integration of various Health and Human Services agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, its coordination with other US departments involved in global health and its priority setting among other U.S. government strategies, such as the Global Health Initiative. Research!America’s U.S. agency fact sheets capture the contributions and unique value of each of these agencies and departments in global health and global health R&D.
The panel also highlighted the importance of global health as a foreign policy issue, contributing to the security and stability of the world. Kerri Ann Jones, U.S. State Department stated, “we need to know what’s going on around the world to know how and what will affect us.” While this is “money well spent” as stressed by Helene Gayle, CARE, fellow panelist Ariel Pablo-Mendez, U.S. Agency for International Development reminded the audience that we need to make sure we’re capturing the successes of the last 20 years. Gayle and Jennifer Kates, Kaiser Family Foundation also cautioned that we need to be sure the political discussion doesn’t trump the health issues and that they reflect the American public support for global health. Kates noted from the Foundation’s work that the American public cares about global health because they know it’s the right thing to do.
Research!America’s most recent state-based global health polls also reflect strong support for global health and global health R&D funding. 72% of Marylanders are concerned about global health, 74% of Georgians believe that global health research is important to Georgia’s economy and 70% of Californians feel Americans would be better off if the U.S. invested in global health research. While we know these investments are the right thing for the world, it is also our responsibility to make the complete case for global health and global health R&D by telling the full story – that these investments are also the smart thing for the US. See some examples of how these investments are paying off for states around the nation.
Through its policy and advocacy efforts, Research!America is playing an active role in the goals and objectives laid out by HHS in their new report. For more information, please go to: http://globalhealth.kff.org/Multimedia/2012/January/05/gh010512video.aspx