Through investments in global health programs, the United States has contributed to saving millions of lives and to making remarkable progress against many diseases that threatened millions of people only a decade ago. U.S. efforts are also at the forefront of the fight against emerging disease threats, promoting global health security, building resilient health systems with a skilled frontline workforce and advancing the development of essential tools to combat diseases like COVID-19.
Investing in global health allows low- and middle-income countries to move toward self-reliance and increase their participation in the global economy. Furthermore, foreign assistance that specifically addresses global health – as well as humanitarian relief, democracy and governance, disaster assistance, agricultural development and education – is a critical component of how the U.S. engages with the world.
As development assistance worldwide undergoes a transition toward greater country ownership and direct financing, the role of U.S. global health programs will continue to evolve.
Increase funding levels for all global health accounts so new global health objectives can be achieved and previous gains are maintained. Sustained U.S. investment in global health programs and strengthening health systems is crucial, especially with the rise of chronic, noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and lung and heart disease, to name a few.
Support policies that will build strong local health systems and enable sustainable health work forces. Strong, integrated health systems prevent devastating infectious disease outbreaks, bolster access to essential health services, enable rapid public health responses, prevent stockouts of essential medicines and other lifesaving health products and help drive inclusive economic growth. Additionally, investments in health workers help save millions of women’s and children’s lives, improve overall global health security and are economically beneficial.
Greater flexibility in budgeting and decision-making is needed to enable in-country experts to respond rapidly to emergencies and local needs. Programs must be designed to facilitate easy coordination of goals, health outcomes, data sharing, community engagement and workforce task shifting.
Set up robust, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that look across sectors to improve multidisciplinary programming. Coordinated investments across health, education, innovation and economic development will achieve greater results than working solely within any one sector.
Transform global health assistance through strengthened investments and integrated programming. U.S. global health programs must continue commitments to end diseases, fortify detection and response systems globally and invest in economies through the health sector. The value of high-quality public health protections and primary care services will ensure countries can be agile in addressing an increasingly dynamic global environment.
Photo Credit: MSH_USAID ACCESS Program- Community Health Volunteer uses the Commcare mobile app during malaria case management, Madagascar.
By integrating global health programs and services, U.S. agencies and practitioners leverage and maximize U.S. investments, which increases the efficiency and effectiveness of health initiatives worldwide. Investment in one area of global health creates a ripple effect across all programs, increasing the economic and social returns. Furthermore, U.S. investments help start health programs that can be scaled up through public and private partnerships. This foundation provides the access to alternative sources of funding and technical assistance that ultimately helps countries become self-reliant. U.S. investments must sustain essential health and social services to prevent the reemergence of life-threatening diseases that the U.S. and its partners have fought so hard to control.
Continued U.S. leadership and investment in global health are needed to build on achievements and to ensure a healthy future for people around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of investing in and building strong and resilient health systems worldwide. COVID-19 has exposed inefficient and weak supply chains unable to serve local communities, which have threatened to thwart decades of progress against diseases made possible by U.S. global health assistance. We have seen that a lack of investment in pandemic preparedness and health system strengthening has stymied the progress of global health programs. Continued U.S. investment in global health and engagement with country and multilateral partners will be critical to strengthen healthcare systems and global health security in the wake of COVID-19. Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly drive the next era of U.S. global health assistance.
HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Meinhardt ALIMA