Obama Administration Chooses Eight Countries to Serve as Global Health Learning Labs
June 18, 2010
Today the Obama administration announced the first round of countries slated for intensive focus as part of its response to various health challenges around the world – the Global Health Initiative (GHI).
Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya
, Mali, Nepal, and Rwanda
have been designated as “GHI Plus countries,” meaning that they will receive additional technical assistance and management support as the administration begins the roll-out of the GHI approach.
The GHI Plus countries will serve as “learning labs” for intensified study of U.S. efforts to reduce deaths and illnesses of mothers and children, and to treat preventable diseases. According to administration officials, these eight countries have all demonstrated the political willingness and enthusiasm for the initiative, and already have the necessary health infrastructure and international partners in place.
What is learned in these countries will then be applied to the more than 80 countries that are part of the U.S.’s global health response.
A session today at the Global Health Conference
, held all this week in Washington, D.C., examined the newly announced initiative. Amie Batson, who is USAID’s Deputy for the GHI, described the GHI Plus countries as “places where there are useful opportunities for learning” and “opportunities to accelerate implementation of GHI.”
Donald Shriber from the CDC framed the GHI as a mechanism to fill gaps in our knowledge by looking at what we know works and how we do it.
He cited programs to prevent HIV-positive mothers from passing the virus on to their babies as an example of an intervention that we know works, but still faces challenges in implementation.
This prevention method has the ability to virtually eliminate pediatric HIV and AIDS, however there are varying rates of successes for these programs in countries in the developing world.
Further examination of innovative programs in one environment will help GHI programs see whether they can work in other countries, and how they can be scaled up nationally and regionally.
He also indicated a desire for greater economic analysis of global health programs overall, looking more at cost effectiveness and cost efficiencies. But he said that the move to integrate global health responses will not dismantle successful programs for single diseases, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Ann Gavaghan, from the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, which administers PEPFAR, echoed this sentiment.
“PEPFAR will continue to do prevention and care and treatment,” she said. “Our goals have not changed.”
Robert Yule is the Foundation's Media Manager, based in Washington, D.C.