New High-Level Commission Will Examine Strategies for Maximizing Global Health Aid
The newly formed Commission on Smart Global Health Policy -- a bipartisan group of legislators, pharmaceutical executives and other health experts -- on Tuesday received a mandate to develop a comprehensive strategy for spending the estimated $10 billion allocated annually for global health aid, the Boston Globe reports. The commission, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, plans to issue recommendations early next year to President Obama's administration. In addition, the commission will tackle some "controversial" issues, such as whether global health spending focuses disproportionally on Africa and whether high levels of HIV/AIDS funding should be balanced with efforts to promote clean water and prevent diseases such as malaria, according to the Globe (Bender, Boston Globe, 4/22).
Stephen Morrison, head of CSIS' Global Health Policy Center, and Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in a paper released Tuesday wrote that one "delicate task" of the commission will be to "decide on the correct balance between HIV and other areas" (Bender, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 4/21).
According to Helene Gayle, president of the not-for-profit organization CARE and former assistant U.S. surgeon general, the group will examine questions, such as, "How does the U.S. capitalize on current investments? What should we be doing more of? What should we be doing differently?" In addition, another important challenge will be to determine "[h]ow do we better measure our impacts?" Gayle said.
According to the Globe, the 26-member coalition will include members of Congress, such as Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); former diplomats and intelligence officials, such as Jon Negroponte; former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala; leaders from not-for-profit groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and executives of corporations such as Coca Cola, Exxon Mobil and Merck. William Fallon, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies and former commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Asia, will lead the effort. According to Fallon, the U.S. spends a relatively significant amount of funding on global health efforts, but officials could better maximize these resources for long-term gains. "If we could ever get our act together and come up with a comprehensive plan to pool resources ... we can probably get some stuff done," he said. Shaheen added that the commission's efforts will affect not only the countries receiving aid but also the U.S. She said, "Creating a long-term, strategic policy to address global health care challenges will strengthen our national security, our economy and our standing as a moral leader in the world" (Boston Globe, 4/22).
In addition, a Kaiser Family Foundation report provides a comprehensive look at the U.S. government agencies and programs involved in the nation's global health response, including their funding and their approaches. It also reviews the key laws governing U.S. global health policy. The report is available online.