Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues…

Trending on kff Ebola Marketplaces Consumer Resources

AP Examines Anticipated Changes To U.S. National Security Strategy, Use Of Health Diplomacy

The Associated Press looks at some anticipated changes to the “National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventive war.” The article focuses on the prospective strategy changes, but notes that the “revisions are part of a larger effort about which the White House talks openly, one that seeks to change not just how the U.S. talks to Muslim nations, but also what it talks to them about, from health care and science to business startups and education.”

According to the AP, the Obama administration plans to “to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say.” The officials outlined the changes “on condition of anonymity because the document is still being written and is unlikely to be released for weeks, and the White House would not discuss it,” according to the AP.

“That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo and promised a ‘new beginning’ in the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world,” the news service writes, noting Obama’s focus on working with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to fight polio. “Polio is endemic in three Muslim countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – but some Muslim leaders have been suspicious of vaccination efforts, which they believed to be part of a CIA sterilization campaign. Last year, the OIC and religious scholars at the International Islamic Fiqh Academy issued a fatwa, or religious decree, that parents should vaccinate their children,” the AP writes.

Sona Bari, a spokesperson for the WHO, said, “President Obama saw [his speech in Cairo] as an opportunity to say, ‘We work on things far beyond the war on terrorism.'” According to the AP, Michael Galway, who works on polio eradication for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “We’re probably entering into a whole new level of engagement between the OIC and the polio program because of the stimulus coming from the U.S. government.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also began working more closely with local Islamic leaders in northern Nigeria, a network that had been overlooked for years, said John Fitzsimmons, the deputy director of the CDC’s immunization division. Though health officials are reluctant to assign credit to any one action, new polio cases in Nigeria fell from 83 during the first quarter of last year to just one so far this year, Fitzsimmons said,” the AP reports (Apuzzo, 4/7).