When it comes to issues of global health, it seems as if there are almost as many opinions, strategies, viewpoints, and approaches to finding solutions to the world’s challenges as there are people in this world.
Luckily, a brand new report (links to PDF), unveiled at an event on Capitol Hill today, defies this too- common reality. The report, “The Future of Global Health: Ingredients for a Bold & Effective U.S. Initiative,” contains recommendations from a broad coalition on President Obama’s announced six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative.
During a media teleconference about the report this morning, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, UN Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals and Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, praised the report. In particular, he endorsed the strategy of employing the Initiative’s ”holistic comprehensive approach” particularly in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
“It can be done,” he assured us.
Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, director of Uganda’s Joint Clinical Research Center, provided perspective on the importance of the Global Health Initiative’s comprehensive approach to strengthening health systems. He gave anecdotal evidence of the great strides that can be made in public health when the U.S. honors its foreign commitments, describing a children’s ward in rural sub-Saharan Africa that used to be “crammed with very sick children,” and his surprise and delight to find it nearly empty a few years later after the region received aid.
IWHC partner Rolake Odetoyinbo Nwagwu, Project Director for the Positive Action for Treatment Access in Nigeria, gave powerful remarks on the importance of integrating HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care with comprehensive reproductive health services.
“We need to ensure that our women have access to treatment [for HIV/AIDS],” she said. “I live in a country where we have about five million pregnancies every year. Over 70 percent…of [these]women [lack access to] health facilities. If we are thinking of women’s health, if we are thinking of maternal health and children’s health… we really cannot afford not to make this investment.
“If we’re going to halt the spread of HIV and reverse it, we need to prevent new infections. We have to go back to maternal health. We’ve got to go back to women’s health. We’ve got to go back to reproductive health. If we do not invest in these, it’s like pouring money into a bucket.”
Lastly, Rolake eloquently stressed the importance of now.
“We are at a critical moment… For us to [achieve the] MDGs, it’s obvious that all of us have to aggressively improve on what we are doing. We need investments to continue if we are looking at global health as a priority.”
There could be no better, more relevant, or more crucial time for this consensus report or the Global Health Initiative. The core principles underpinning both mirror our own vision and that of our partners worldwide: a woman-focused model of care centered on the realities and needs of local communities.
Click here to read a new publication co-written and co-sponsored by IWHC: “Action Steps for the Health and Rights of Women and Youth: Alleviating Poverty and Promoting Human Security and Stability” (Links to PDF).