Unlike previous U.S. health programs, the Obama administration’s USD63 billion Global Health Initiative will focus on patients and health systems and not on diseases, according to U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah.
Shah delivered a keynote address June 29 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies where he outlined key features of the GHI, which he said is already underway in several countries, including the eight recently identified GHI plus countries.
Through the GHI, the U.S. aims to create conditions that will reduce the need to provide aid to developing countries in the future, Shah said. Among these conditions are strong local health institutions and units of well-trained community health workers, he added.
Shah outlined five key features of the initiative.
First is a focus on “doing more of what works.” According to Shah, the initiative will expand proven prevention and treatment strategies in addressing HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases as well as proven practices in nutrition, hygiene, family planning and maternal and child health.
The next feature is a focus on evaluation and monitoring. Specifically, Shah noted that the Obama administration wants to create an environment where it is to safe to report on practices and strategies that do not work. It is important to maximize resources and get the most value for every aid dollar spent, the administrator noted.
The third feature Shah identified is innovation. He referred to his and the administration’s goal of bringing entrepreneurial approaches to U.S. foreign aid programs. In the GHI, these approaches seek to encourage more people to visit clinics and to mobilize private sector support and engagement.
The use of new diagnostics and treatment procedures is also integral to GHI, Shah said.
A fourth feature is the focus on national development strategies. The GHI will strengthen host country health systems and the U.S. is ready to realign its programs to better complement and support the recipient country’s national priorities, Shah explained.
The fifth feature Shah outlined is a focus on women and girls. Shah said that the GHI will extend more health care to more women through simple strategies such as making clinics more women-friendly, making family planning more accessible and extending services to homes through female community workers.