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Office Of Global Health Diplomacy Represents Move Toward Expanding GHI's Impact

With the closure of the Global Health Initiative office and the establishment of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy within the State Department last week, “[t]he Obama administration made some quiet changes … that strengthen one of its most significant policy shifts: that global health and foreign assistance are critical components of diplomacy,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. The new office “will implement the principles of the Global Health Initiative that make economic and humanitarian sense, namely a woman-centered approach, country ownership, and health sector integration,” she writes, adding, “The GHI’s principles have the potential to make real progress against the world’s greatest health challenges, and we have to pay meticulous attention to ensuring they are put into action.”

Sippel notes CHANGE recently released two reports examining progress of GHI in Ethiopia and Guatemala and says the “reports find that GHI’s key principles of a focus on women and girls and health sector integration are already making a positive difference.” However, “GHI is also exposing program weaknesses that will hinder U.S. development efforts without proper attention, namely if they are not restructured to align with key GHI principles,” such as integrating HIV prevention into family planning programs, she continues. “Full and sustained implementation of GHI’s principles is the best way to ensure that U.S. global health programs make a real, measurable difference in the lives of those served by U.S. foreign assistance, and that U.S. dollars are spent effectively,” she states, concluding, “We’ve seen that its principles have a positive impact that resonates with the efforts of other donors and civil society working in these countries. The Office of Global Health Diplomacy is the first step toward expanding that impact” (7/6).