Last May, the Obama administration announced plans for a global health initiative. Now, a coalition of health-related groups has issued a report on what that initiative should contain.
The report, issued Thursday, is called The Future of Global Health – Ingredients of a Bold and Effective U.S. initiative.
Asia Russell of the activist group Health Gap praised the Obama administration for its health initiative, especially regarding reproductive, maternal and child health, as well as family planning. But she questions the proposed funding levels.
"Civil society groups are seriously concerned that the funding levels being sought by the White House…are so low, essentially about $10 billion per year…. There's clear evidence to show that with these funding levels the global initiative itself will not be able to achieve success," she says.
U.S. committed to global health
Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) is also giving his support to the administration's effort. But he, too, says funding should be greater. McDermott is a medical doctor and chair of the Congressional HIV Caucus.<!-- IMAGE -->
He says the United States has shown its commitment to global health care, starting in the Clinton administration and continuing through the Bush and Obama administrations.
"This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue where people recognize that global health is something that is really in the United States' best interest, as well as the human thing to do," he says.
McDermott says the proposed funding figures sounds like a lot but they should be kept in perspective.
"It's a quarter of one percent of the GDP of this country. So, we're not making that big of a commitment and I hope that we can go much larger," he says.
Millennium Development Goals<!-- IMAGE -->
The report also has the support of Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to the U.N. secretary general on the Millennium Development Goals. The director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University supports the administration's efforts and is part of the coalition that issued the new report.
Many of the MDGs relate to health.
"The Millennium Development Goals are now in their ninth year. Health is actually one of themost important accomplishments of these first nine years," he says.
Sachs says history proves that investing in health pays high dividends.
"Every time the world has invested in health in poor settings, the results have come through in a spectacular fashion, even better than was expected," he says.
He says there was often much initial opposition to such funding, with critics saying it couldn't be done.
"It turned out, yes, we can."<!-- IMAGE -->