New Bipartisan Commission To Create Plan To Better Spend $10B U.S. Global Health Budget
A new bipartisan commission comprised of 26 members from a variety of professional backgrounds was given a mandate on Tuesday to develop recommendations for how U.S. policy makers should spend the estimated $10 billion annually to tackle global health issues in developing countries, the Boston Globe reports.
Retired Navy Admiral William J. Fallon, who was commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Asia and is now a professor at MIT's Center for International Studies, is expected to lead the Commission on Smart Global Health Policy.
At a kickoff breakfast, Fallon said that he hopes to contribute to the effort by bringing 40 years of experience, in which he frequently witnessed the United States often haphazard, short-term action in addressing basic needs among populations in unstable parts of the world.
The amount the United States spends on global health each year could be better used over the long term, according to Fallon, adding that the global health budget could be used for "preventive maintenance" in Muslim countries, the Boston Globe reports. Helene Gayle, president of CARE and a former assistant U.S. surgeon general, outlined the goals of the study, which she will help to lead. Gayle said, "How does the US capitalize on current investments? What should we be doing more of? What should we be doing differently?"
The commission plans to bring its recommendations to the Obama administration early in 2010. Organizers said the committee is prepared to address contentious topics, such as how much policy should focus on Africa and whether the emphasis on treating HIV/AIDS should be balanced with efforts to meet basic needs like clean drinking water, which could prevent malaria and other diseases (Bender, Boston Globe, 4/22). Determining the "correct balance between HIV and other areas" will "involve complex choices, potentially involving winners and losers or at least the perception of such," J. Stephen Morrison, head of Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center, and the Kaiser Family Foundation's Jen Kates wrote in a report released Tuesday (Rhee, Boston Globe, Political Intelligence, 4/21).
The commission is sponsored by the nonpartisan CSIS. It includes several members of Congress, such as Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Olympia Snow of Maine; pharmaceutical executives; nonprofit leaders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others; former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala; the president of Barnard College; and other business executives (Boston Globe, 4/22).
A separate Kaiser Family Foundation released on Tuesday provides the first comprehensive look at the U.S. government agencies and programs involved in the nation's global health response, including their funding and their approaches. Federal funding for such initiatives reached $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2008, more than double the amount just four years earlier. The report is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.