In Health Programs, US Seeks 'Similar Commitment' from Partner Nations

A U.S. army doctor checks her patient's vitals during a medical mission in Vietnam. Under the Global Health Initiative, aid-recipient nations should take ownership and leadership in health strategies. Photo by: The U.S. Army / CC BY The U.S. ArmyCC BY

Under the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. wants aid-recipient nations to take the lead in creating and implementing health strategies.

The U.S. is helping to build the capacity of its partner nations in managing, coordinating and operating health programs over the long-term, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. In order to achieve this, the donor country is training community health workers, setting up drug supply chains and establishing health information systems, she explained.

The USD63 billion GHI investment aims to foster “an integrated, coordinated, sustainable system of care, with the countries themselves in the lead,” Clinton said.

“The United States is willing to invest our money, our time, and our expertise to improve health in countries,” Clinton said Aug. 16 at the School of Advanced International Studies. “But we are now asking their governments to demonstrate a similar commitment, in terms of human resources, serious pledges to build capacity, and where feasible, financial support.”

Clinton noted that some African and Asian counries that “are becoming quite wealthy in one respect off of natural resources” have “very little” investments in their health sectors.

“At some point which is really underlying what the Global Health Initiative is attempting to do, we have to tell countries we cannot help them any more than they are willing to help themselves,” Clinton said.

Under the GHI, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief will be scaled up to directly support treatment for more than 4 million people worldwide and prevent 12 million new HIV infections. U.S. President Barack Obama has requested for more than USD5.7 billion in funding for PEPFAR in 2011.

“So the immediate impact for PEPFAR is clear. Its funding will increase, its impact will increase, and its prevention strategies will become more comprehensive,” Clinton said.

Similarly, the U.S. will increase its support for the President’s Malaria Initiative, efforts to combat tuberculosis, and work in improving family planning, and maternal and child health under the GHI.

Aside from underscoring country ownership and leadership in health initiatives, the GHI will also focus on the needs and contributions of women and girls, and developing innovative tools to help diagnose, prevent, and cure diseases, Clinton said.

The GHI is also calling for improvements in measuring and evaluating the impacts of U.S.-backed health projects.

“This includes shifting our focus from ‘inputs’ to ‘outcomes and impacts’—that is, determining our success not simply by how many bed nets we distribute, but by how many people actually avoid malaria by using them correctly—a fuller picture that demands that we invest in improving how we ourselves collect, analyze, and share data,” Clinton explained.

The U.S. will also align its health efforts with the work of donor countries and multilateral organizations, and domestic programs in a bid to enhance coordination and integration, and seek new partnerships.

“We are talking with a lot of the donor countries that have programs in the countries that we’re doing the Global Health Initiative, and we’re trying to see how we can maximize the impact of our resources. Ideally, someday I would love to see like a map of the world all lit up and so if the United States is doing a health system in Country X, then the Scandinavian countries take all their resources and go to Country Y, which the United States can’t do and nobody else will do, and we want the Global Fund to be supplementing, not supplanting, the resources that go in,” Clinton said.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.