By Lois Quam
Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative
I write this from PEPFAR’s Annual Meeting in Johannesburg. As those of you who have been following my blog posts know, I’ve trying to get on the road more – to see the progress that is being made first-hand – as well as the challenges that lie ahead.
It’s inspiring to be at PEPFAR’s Annual Meeting surrounded by people so firmly committed to a program that has saved millions of lives in eight short years. It’s often said that PEPFAR is the cornerstone of GHI because of the platforms that it has been built. I would say that it’s also the cornerstone because of the people who have built them. PEPFAR, along with its government partners, is committed to making things happen. And every day, wearing my GHI Executive Director hat, I’m seeing more progress being made.
In speaking to my colleagues at PEPFAR, I emphasized that we are all stewards of President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s vision for GHI. And that vision is about momentum. In creating GHI, they reflected the fact that so much had been accomplished in global health that is powerful and good. Yet, they understood that our aspirations and dreams around global health go far beyond what we’ve accomplished.
Global health work is not new. For generations, we’ve had people crossing borders to save lives and relieve suffering. We know our grandchildren will be doing this work. But we don’t want them to do the same things that we are doing now.
The GHI initiative was put into place to provide that momentum. You can think about this in three ways:
1) The GHI principles are putting “jets” under our work. They are designed to fix things that we look at and know aren’t working right. GHI is creating momentum in our work with countries, building upon what has been successful to date. GHI is designed to gain momentum that we need to achieve our dreams. To accomplish those dreams we need to work in different ways.
2) The GHI vision is a part of the broader vision of Secretary Clinton and President Obama about the role that development plays as part of our broader strategic policy objectives. QDDR was the first four-year development review done by the State Department that elevated diplomacy and development together. Both Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton have said we would like to use defense less in foreign relations – indeed no one has been more articulate than Secretary Gates on this. Secretary Gates has advocated for support for USAID because he recognizes the critical role of development, and what the blunt instrument of defense cannot accomplish.
3) The QDDR builds on development as a part of diplomacy. As a result, we need a highly effective development agency to lead this role. Administrator Shah is working diligently to make USAID the best it can be. Because we know that we can’t have security, trading partners and can’t fulfill American values without having countries that have developed their people and capacities.
GHI is the next chapter in our nation’s successful global health efforts. Because GHI encompasses PEPFAR, the President’s Malaria Initiative and other global health programs that have separate legislation and appropriations, we don’t have the luxury of starting with a blank slate. However, we do have the luxury of building on these track records of success. Through GHI we can take existing programs and link their momentum to neglected areas such as the health of women and girls and neglected tropical diseases.
I have been telling my colleagues that the success of GHI is really up to all of us, we are the leaders. We are each other’s backstops. We will have to think better about how we support each other. How we can do this work in ways that are more efficient – so we can save more mothers, and that are more effective – so we can save more children.
Because that’s what GHI is all about…