Smart Power-ing Global Health

March 19, 2010 By Jordan Smith

 width= A new report on Smart Global Health Policy unveiled yesterday says “it is time to leverage the essential role that U.S. global health policy can play” in advancing our national security interests.  The report is the result of a bipartisan commission organized by Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew and Senior Director at the National Security Council Gayle Smith both discussed the important role global health plays to our national security at the report’s launch, with Lew saying, “Poor health prolongs poverty and fosters instability.”   Smith pointed out the strong political coalition surrounding the issue: “There is non-partisan support, not even bipartisan support” for investments in global health.

There was widespread agreement among the day’s speakers that U.S. foreign policy must prioritize health around the world. “A health crisis is also a political crisis, an economic crisis, and a security crisis,” said Lew. “Hunger sparks violence.” Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) said that “disease doesn’t care about borders.” Deputy Secretary Lew also noted the increasingly receptive climate to a smart power foreign policy. “There is a community of interest around these issues now, not just a few doctors,” he said. When Lew argued in earlier times for strategic investments in global health, he was only speaking to a few people, he said. “It’s a different story now. I really see a difference.” Donna E. Shalala, President of the University of Miami and Co-Chair of the USGLC’s Florida Advisory Committee, agreed with Lew’s assessment. “We’ve come so far from the debates of the past,” she said.