Global Health Council


Global health advocates deal with losing clout | 

Somali mothers and their babies wait for vaccines at a health center in Mogadishu, Somalia. One million children still die at birth every year due to lack of care.
Somali mothers and their babies wait for vaccines at a health center in Mogadishu, Somalia. One million children still die at birth every year due to lack of care.

For the first time in nearly 15 years, the US government is poised to reduce its investment in global health.

The Obama Administration, which has long had a fairly spotty, confused and yet self-congratulory approach to fighting diseases of poverty, has submitted a budget request that has disturbed many in the global health community who, for more than a decade, saw themselves as at the top of the aid and development hierarchy.

Here’s a good breakdown of Obama’s $50 billion foreign assistance request from the Center for Global Development’s Casey Dunning. Global health would still get a big chunk, $8.1 billion, but that represents a nearly 5 percent cut from last year. And, as Humanosphere reported yesterday, some say we’re still not spending nearly enough if the goal here is to drive health improvements as a means to reducing global poverty.

Christine Sow
Christine Sow

“The request is much lower than anyone expected,” said Christine Sow, the new director of the new-and-improved Global Health Council (GHC), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that itself caused some confusion and consternation when it suddenly announced it was shutting down in mid-2012.

Sow was in Seattle this week to meet with others, like those at the Washington Global Health Alliance, to revive and re-orient the case for keeping global health at the top of the development agenda. Continue reading

The Sudden Death and Rebirth of the Global Health Council | 


GHClogoThe global health community was left bewildered when the Global Health Council suddenly announced last April that it was closing.

Members of the prestigious, decades-old organization were not warned in advance, participants in the upcoming annual meeting had to abruptly cancel their plans and the GHC’s cryptic explanation (scroll down to April) just left everyone scratching their heads:

“Times have changed… Funding that once existed to promote a broad-based health agenda is now focused on specific health issues. The fundamental shifts in the health landscape have led the Board to revisit the relevance of the organization and determine that the Council’s current operating model is no longer sustainable.”

But times have changed again, apparently.

The organization is being resurrected with a new board, a slightly new name (Global Health Coalition) and with purportedly a new and more relevant strategy. Continue reading

Pacific Health Summit calls it quits | 

The prestigious, by-invitation-only and, well, kinda stuffy, Pacific Health Summit appears to be making a steep descent.

The Seattle (and sometimes London) confab that has over the years featured some of the top brass in the world of global health appears to be closing down operations. I say appears because the announcement (see email below) isn’t totally clear and makes it sound more like a ‘new phase.’ But that’s often what organizations say when they don’t want to publicly just say it’s quits.

It is the end of Pacific Health Summit as we know it, a grand affair with select attendees launched in 2005 with the mission of linking health, science and industry in the service of global health.

This follows the demise of another high-profile global health gathering, the annual meeting of the Global Health Council, which abruptly closed last April with a vague statement about “the state of global health issues” and “fundamental shifts in the global health landscape.”

Turns out, the real problem was they lost funding from donors. My money is on a similar explanation for the PHS. Continue reading

Why the Global Health Council closed | 

By Jaclyn Schiff, special correspondent

Originally posted at Devex, where it is available for free after registration


Twenty-twelve marks an important year for the Global Health Council — 40 years since it was founded.

But instead of celebrating that milestone, GHC will shut its doors in the coming months and forgo its annual conference for the first time since 1973.

The council’s announcement Friday, April 20, that it will cease operations leaves a vacuum in the global health community. Described as the professional association for groups involved with global health and the convener of the community, GHC members will be left without a neutral broker, inviting questions about what went wrong and what comes next.

The simplest explanation for why the council is shutting its doors is money. GHC’s operations were largely funded by membership dues in the 1980s and ’90s, but the organization relied more heavily on grants over the last few years, including a three-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant that made up the majority of GHC’s budget. Continue reading

Fighting poverty on World Malaria Day | 

Flickr, Gustavo

Fighting malaria is fighting poverty.

It’s World Malaria Day.

Malaria kills about 800,000 people every year but it also sickens hundreds of millions, causing $12 billion in economic losses annually in Africa alone due to impaired worker productivity, according to economist Jeffrey Sachs and Pia Malaney.

So how are we doing in the battle against this disease of poverty?

Today, at Seattle-based PATH, many of those here leading in the fight against malaria will meet to discuss ongoing efforts in prevention, treatment, research aimed at finding an effective vaccine and evaluating that progress.

Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, director of the Roll Back Malaria partnership and former health minister for Senegal, says the massive investment by the international community in expanding access to bed nets, other preventive measures as well as improved diagnostics and treatments is paying off big time:

Change has been most dramatic in Africa, where enough insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been delivered to cover 76% of people at risk and 11 countries have reduced malaria cases and deaths by over 50%.

Coll-Seck notes this translates into an estimated 750,000 deaths, mostly in children, prevented over the last decade. Continue reading