USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Tuesday delivered a speech at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he reaffirmed President Barack Obama’s commitment to the 6-year $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) and discussed the USAID’s role in bolstering U.S. global health programs.
During his speech, Shah emphasized the administration’s focus on structuring global health programs to be more cost efficient. “Some of the administration’s themes are improving health delivery efficiency at the country level by encouraging local leadership and to build more efficiency into existing programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” the news service writes (Schnirring, 2/15).
“NIH represents one of America’s core competitive advantages: advancing science, technology and innovation aimed directly at improving human welfare,” Shah said. “If we can target the freed resources provided by GHI toward the expansion of new scientific breakthroughs, I believe by 2016, we can: save the lives of over 3 million children; prevent more than 12 million HIV infections; avert 700,000 malaria deaths; ensure nearly 200,000 pregnant women can safely give birth; prevent 54 million unintended pregnancies; cure 2.4 million people infected with TB,” Shah said, according to the release.
However, he stressed, “We cannot simply seek to do more of the same in an effort to provide services using currently available tools and technologies. Instead, we need to focus our efforts on facilitating a continuum of invention and innovation from bench to bush” (2/15). Shah noted the promise of new technologies to improve TB and malaria testing and develop new insecticides, vaccines and gel-based microbicides. He also spoke of the role of community health workers in bringing such diagnostics and interventions to patients.
That is all very well and good, but why not help our own people first—the Americans?