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Obama’s new global health czar

Few in the global health community appear to know much about the Obama Administration’s newly appointed chief of the $63 billion Global Health Initiative — which itself remains a bit unclear, but that’s another story.

Lois Quam

Lois Quam is a Minnesota health care executive best known for her work as a businesswoman at UnitedHealthGroup.

Given that the American health care system is the most expensive — and arguably least efficient and equitable in the developed world — Quam’s appointment to head up our nation’s efforts to improve health in the developing world is causing some to scratch their heads.

On Tuesday, as the Kaiser Foundation reports, Quam made her first public statements since accepting the position in January. The Administration also issued a report on its strategy.

Who is Lois Quam?

Fellow Minnesotan Sarah Arnquist, at Global Health Hub, offers her thoughts by first asking if “Minnesota Nice” will help Quam succeed.

The Global Health Council’s blog also weighs in, asking “What Lies Ahead” for the still somewhat poorly defined initiative.

The Harvard Business Review goes deeper into Quam’s personal and professional experiences, comparing her work as a CEO to her growth as a parent.

So, now we know a bit more about the woman who will head up the Obama Administration’s vaunted effort aimed at:

  • reforming and coordinating the way our nation fights the global HIV-AIDS pandemic,
  • reducing the death toll from malaria,
  • preventing maternal and child deaths,
  • getting more kids in poor countries vaccinated,
  • and so on.

One of her first jobs will be to explain clearly what exactly the Global Health Initiative is, and how it will be carried out.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.