U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Shares Details on New Global Health Office

Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the Office of Health Diplomacy and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

In December, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the State Department would renew its focus on global health through the creation of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy. The Office is intended to continue the work of the Global Health Initiative, which was first launched in 2009. Secretary Clinton appointed Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator who heads the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to lead the Office.

At a Town Hall forum hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation on February 28, Ambassador Goosby said he hoped the Office will be able to offer guidance and support to global health programs that focus on curbing the world’s most devastating diseases, including AIDS.

“I think we’re at a moment where the world is realizing that we can put a ‘basement’ of health care on the planet for everybody,” Goosby commented during the forum, emphasizing that building a foundation for health services can save millions of lives.

The Office of Global Health Diplomacy will provide technical assistance to health systems that are already established, while working with political leaders to guide countries toward taking ownership of their health programs. Goosby emphasized that he will task ambassadors with the goal of sharing the message of global health throughout the world.

“Health is a central expectation that we put on our ambassadors to carry forward -- not in some conversations, or in conversations once a year, but in all conversations, as much as that can be integrated. It’s a continuing and ongoing mantra,” Goosby added.

“A lot of the large motors, like the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have shown policy makers that we don’t need to just talk about (global health). If there is a resource capability that can be deployed, we can actually make a huge difference in the morbidity and mortality that these diseases incur.”

The Global Fund and PEPFAR are two of the major funding sources in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic. Goosby said that now is the time for the creation of an agency that champions sustainable health systems in partner countries. “The U.S. sees this as a central piece to our portfolio, and to the contribution that the American people want to make.”

Chelsea Bailey is Communications Assistant for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.