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Sec. Of State Clinton Discusses Global Health Initiative

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke about President Barack Obama’s $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) during a speech on Monday at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Reuters’ “Front Row Washington” blog reports (Ashburn, 8/16). 

“With a careful nod to the Bush administration’s major efforts in global health – the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative – Clinton … laid out the basic outline of the [GHI], a ‘new approach, informed by new thinking and aimed at a new goal: to save the greatest possible number of lives, both by increasing our existing health programs and building upon them to help countries develop their own capacity to improve the health of their own people,’” Politics Daily reports. 

For most of the 90 minute speech, Clinton made the “case for an integrated, diplomatic approach to global health care policy and the impact of international health on U.S. interests abroad” in a speech that the article asserts “was meant as a branding of sorts, a popularizing and contextualizing of the massive project” (Wildman, 8/17).

During her prepared remarks, Clinton said investing in global health could strengthen fragile states, “promote social and economic progress,” “protect our nation’s security” and serve “as a tool of public diplomacy,” according to a State Department transcript. Before discussing the structure of the GHI, Clinton said its “fundamental purpose” is to tie fragmented “individual health programs together in an integrated, coordinated, sustainable system of care, with the countries themselves in the lead.” She also raised six points to highlight how the GHI will address “systemic problems” in health systems around the world. The transcript includes a video of the speech (8/16). 

While calling for better coordination of services, “Clinton decried the ‘vicissitudes of funding cycles and development trends,’” Politics Daily writes. “And, perhaps to quell the concerns of those who fear the Global Health Initiative will negatively affect PEPFAR, she used the latter as an example of why the GHI would be successful. ‘We are raising our goal for prevention,’ she said. ‘We aim to prevent 12 million new HIV infections. To do that we are embracing a more comprehensive approach and expanding on what we know works. … We know we need to confront 2.7 million new infections every year. So in order to win this war, we need better results in prevention. … So the immediate impact for PEPFAR is clear. Its funding will increase, its impact will increase, and its prevention strategies will be more comprehensive’” (8/17).

Clinton also “defended international health spending at a time of domestic belt-tightening,” according to “Front Row Washington.”

“At a time when American unemployment is recorded as slightly less than 10 percent, and we know structural unemployment is worse, and we’re asking hard-working, maybe unemployed Americans, to keep paying their taxes, some of that money will go to fund our development and diplomacy efforts worldwide,” Clinton said at the event. “I have to be able to look them in the eye and tell them they’re getting their money’s worth” (8/16).