DoD's Global Health Efforts 'Difficult To Ignore' Given Department's Budget, Reach
A report (.pdf) released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation outlines the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) global health work, “present[ing] the first comprehensive analysis of DoD’s activities and budget in this area” and “aim[ing] to contribute to discussions about DoD’s role in global health, understandably regarded as controversial by many observers,” a Lancet editorial states. “The report notes that DoD’s work in global health is varied,” “[n]o overarching policy or strategic document guides the department’s global health-related efforts and there is no single budget for such activities,” the Lancet writes. The report estimates that DoD’s budget for global health work in FY 2012 was more than half a billion dollars, more “than the global health budgets for either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health during the same period”; however, “the effectiveness of this investment is unclear,” according to the editorial.
“Although many in the global health community have reservations about working with DoD to fulfill common goals, the department’s vast budget, reach, and influence are difficult to ignore,” the Lancet writes, adding, “This may be especially true after November’s election as the next government attempts to address the country’s trillion-dollar budget deficit.” Noting “President Barack Obama’s flagship Global Health Initiative (GHI) is moving to a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy” in the State Department, the editorial says the office “will provide support for U.S. ambassadors who are set to lead GHI projects in countries.” The Lancet concludes, “Ensuring greater coordination, strategic direction, and assessment of the DoD’s global health work would also be a fitting role for the new office” (10/13).