Secretary Clinton on the Global Health Initiative

August 16, 2010 By Hannah Kaye

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) today before an audience at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Calling attention to the successes and shortcomings of U.S. global health investments in previous years, Secretary Clinton promised a new approach in the $63 billion GHI that will build on existing programs and create lasting change.

In her speech, Secretary Clinton made the case for global health investments and articulated areas for growth. She explained that global health has everything to do with foreign policy: from strengthening weak and fragile states and building the foundation from which societies can grow, to increasing U.S. national security, carrying out public diplomacy, and demonstrating American values, global health plays a central role. In a time of even greater economic limits, however, it is even more important to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and get results. The Secretary made it clear that the GHI will maximize resources as well as achieve more effective outcomes on the ground. By emphasizing coordination, leveraging the efforts of other donors and non-governmental organizations, and working with countries to increase their investments in health, the Administration hopes the GHI will increase its impact in the short and longer term.

Key elements of the GHI highlighted in the speech include the Administration’s promise to make care more accessible and close gaps created by clinics or programs focused on only one disease or one type of intervention. Secretary Clinton applauded global health progress, but noted that in many places a woman might be treated for HIV but die in childbirth, or a child might be immunized against polio but not have access to clean water and therefore die of a diarrheal disease. The GHI will work closely with country governments to strengthen their commitments to health and create the necessary capacity, infrastructure, regulations, and other policies that will help them take responsibility for the health of their citizens. While the U.S. will focus on innovation, maternal and child health, improved methods of monitoring and evaluating programs, and better in-country coordination, ultimately the GHI hopes to bring all U.S. resources- both from within and outside the government- to bear to help countries lead their own way toward sustainable health systems. The path will be difficult, Secretary Clinton warned, “but if we succeed, we will have transformed how health is delivered and received across the world.”