global health policy

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Global health researchers say global health research is critical | 

News analysis

That’s the gist of it anyway.

On Tuesday, a group of some 40 global health organizations that calls itself the Global Health Technologies Coalition issued a report that found global health technologies “are among the best investments US policymakers can make” and warned that budget cuts to global health threaten to undermine progress made to date — and also will threaten lives worldwide.

I’d generally agree with this, and have written plenty here on Humanosphere about the threat federal budget cuts pose to the global fight against AIDS, malaria and other diseases of poverty. But is it really about making the case for research, for new technologies?

I wonder how convincing it will be for these organizations that want more money for their particular projects to be issuing a ‘study’ that discovers what they do is incredibly important and invaluable. Unlike the American biomedical industry — which does the same kind of lobbying — these are not research projects aimed at addressing our problems.

This new advocacy group is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and “housed” at PATH, both of which are often criticized for taking too much of a ‘techno-fix’ approach to global health.

Global health research ideally is aimed at finding better ways to fight diseases many Americans either haven’t heard of or don’t think is their problem. This is, or should be, ultimately about fighting poverty and helping the poor overseas.

Perhaps the case that needs to be made is more fundamental than just clamoring for more funding of research.

Here are some media reports based on the coalition’s event in Washington, D.C., yesterday:

GlobalPost US Senator on global health – ‘Achievable stuff’

SciDev US Congress urged not to cut global health funding

PATH even enlisted noted global health and science advocate Whoopi Goldberg to help make the case in this video presentation:

Global Health as Smart Power | 

Smart Global Health Policy

by Tom Paulson

Smart Global Health Policy meeting

Someday, perhaps it will be enough to say that making people healthy worldwide is just good for all of us.

But, apparently, we’re not there yet.

A blue-ribbon panel called the Commission on Smart Global Health Policy met in Seattle last week and, to a crowd of several hundred people, presented its pitch that global health has political and foreign policy value.

The first sentence of the commission report says:

“As the United States applies smart power to advance U.S. interests around the world, it is time to leverage the essential role that U.S. global health policy can play.”

It goes on to recommend in detail how a more strategic approach to global health  — a so-called “smart power” approach — will “advance America’s core interests.”

I wonder: Is it really a good idea to cast global health efforts as a means to advance U.S. interests? Continue reading