Presidential Candidates' Views on Global Health

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at campaignforcures@gmail.com.   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit www.campaignforcures.org

Presidential Candidates' Views on Global Health

By: 
Janice Lloyd

Since the 2016 election campaigns have focused sparingly on science and biomedical issues, we’re examining how the presidential candidates’ global policies address -- or don’t address -- science-focused events and emergencies.

According to an October feature published in the magazine Science called "Science Lessons for the Next President," it is because “New presidents typically move into the White House neither expecting to spend much time on such arcane technical issues, nor prepared to. But history shows that, ready or not, every president ends up grappling with a host of science-related issues or crises.”

In terms of safeguarding Americans health, the next President and Congress need to be prepared for “serious epidemics and even a global pandemic,” the article adds. The pathogens that cause epidemics are in an arms race with our treatments, often gaining “the upper hand, evolving the ability to evade or overrun host defenses and potentially becoming deadly superbugs.”

For example, evolution has lead to bacteria that can resist antibiotics. In the U.S., two million people develop antibiotic resistant infections each year, and 23,000 die. The new administration will need to encourage the development of new antibiotics that have little profit potential.

It will also have to deal with viruses that can’t be kept out by walls such as Zika, Dengue fever and Ebola. A majority of Americans (79%) say it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation, according to a public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America.  Here’s how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said they’d respond to global issues in a ScienceDebate.org questionnaire.

Clinton: When dealing with the outbreak of diseases, we must be sure to act with caution, and rely on science to inform our decisions around trade, travel, and treatment. We are privileged to live in a country that individuals around the world aspire to visit and even immigrate to. It is within our national interest to think beyond our borders, and through our leadership, do everything we can to foster peace, health, and security around the world. In the United States, we need to break the cycle in which our own public health system is beholden to emergency appropriations for specific epidemics. We can do this by creating a dedicated Rapid Response Fund to help shore up our defenses, accelerate development of vaccines and new treatments, and respond more effectively to crises. We will also create a comprehensive global health strategy that moves beyond the disease-by-disease emergency model and seeks to build a robust, resilient global health system capable of quickly responding to and ending pandemics. 

Trump: Our best input to helping with global issues is to make sure that the United States is on the proper trajectory economically. For the past decade we have seen Gross Domestic Product growth that has not provided adequate resources to fix our infrastructure, recapitalize our military, invest in our education system or secure energy independence. We cannot take our place as world leader if we are not healthy enough to take care of ourselves. This means we must make sure that we achieve our goals in tax reform, trade reform, immigration reform and energy independence. A prosperous America is a much better partner in tackling global problems that affect this nation achieving its national objectives. 

Neither candidate mentions this plus: global health research and development creates jobs and opportunity for Americans. Approximately 64 cents of every dollar the U.S. government spends on global health R&D goes to supporting jobs for U.S.-based researchers and product developers and building and improving U.S. research and technological capacity, according to Research!America.

To read the ScienceDebate.org questions and answers, click here, for "Science Lessons for the Next President," click here.

 

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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

 
Source: A Research!America and ScienceDebate.org poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.

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