Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a packed room of students and faculty from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) to discuss next steps for the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). The speech focused less on the policy and implementation of GHI, and instead placed GHI as the next phase of American leadership in global health and, more broadly, development. Clinton remarked, “What exactly does maternal health, or immunizations, or the fight against HIV and AIDS have to do with foreign policy? Well, my answer is everything.”
Clinton used the speech as a platform to get buy-in from the community for GHI — underscoring the fact that global health continues to be a nonpartisan issue that even the American public wants to support. She reiterated the GHI’s holistic approach to global health prevention and treatment with a specific focus on outcomes not inputs, priority care for women and girls, and innovation.
“We invest in global health to protect our nation’s security. To cite one example, the threat posed by the spread of disease in our interconnected world in which thousands of people every day step on a plane in one continent and step off in another. We need a comprehensive, effective global system for tracking health data, monitoring threats, and coordinating responses.”
“So therefore, we must be strategic and make evidence-based decisions in targeting the most dangerous threats, to ensure that our investments that, after all, come from the American taxpayer, deliver results. And we must also must stay focused on the long-term picture – not only addressing the urgent needs that people have today but building the foundation for better health tomorrow and for the next generation.”
“The fundamental purpose of the Global Health Initiative is to address these problems by tying individual health programs together in an integrated, coordinated, sustainable system of care, with the countries themselves in the lead. We are taking the investments our country has made in PEPFAR, the President’s Malaria Initiative, maternal and child health, family planning, neglected tropical diseases, and other critical health areas – building on the work of agencies across the federal government, such as the Centers for Disease Control – and expanding their reach by improving the overall environment in which health services are delivered. By doing so, our investments can have a bigger impact and patients can gain access to more and better care, and as a result, lead healthier lives.”
“Too often, the social, economic, and cultural factors that restrict their access to health services—such as gender-based violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation, lack of education, lack of access to economic opportunity, and other forms of discrimination—remain unacknowledged and unaddressed. We are linking our health programs to our broader development efforts to address those underlying political, economic, social, and gender problems. And we’re working with governments, civil society groups, and individuals to make sure that the needs of women and girls are recognized as critical not only by us, but by the health ministers, the people at the grassroots who administer care every day, that they are taken into account in the budgets and the planning of finance ministries, prime ministers, and presidents.”