Global health was a hot topic in Washington, D.C. this past year starting out with lots of excitement and ending with much uncertainty. In this policy update we have highlighted the major events in global health in 2010 including the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative, the Presidential Policy Directive, and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Given the strong interest and concern with cost cutting in our government today, global health promises to be on the agenda again in 2011. To keep our membership informed of policy changes that present both challenges and opportunities for global health programs, we are launching a global health policy update to which you can subscribe.
- 2010 started with a bang when President Obama requested huge increases in funding for global health programs as part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). While it’s a difficult time to increase spending, the Administration made global health one of their top funding priorities. The GHI ushered in a new way of thinking about global health – shifting away from the disease-specific emergency response policy of the past Administration and towards a more sustainable approach geared towards women and girls, strengthening country capacity, and improving health outcomes.
- The GHI was the first in a number of new Administration initiatives and reviews geared towards strengthening our foreign assistance. The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD), released in September, and the long-awaited Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), rolled out in December; both highlighted the need for a more streamlined approach to foreign assistance. The Administration also announced the Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative that renews its commitment to invest in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty.
- On Capitol Hill, the debate over foreign assistance took place largely in the Appropriations Committee. While no legislation is needed for the GHI, funding to carry out the President’s goals certainly is a necessity. Democrats and Republicans debated the merits of increased funding for global health when considering the 2011 Fiscal Year Budget. One could call the debate a draw as Congress passed a Continuing Resolution – funding the government at FY’10 levels through March 4, 2011.
- The House and Senate Foreign Affairs/Relations Committees also took steps towards enacting legislation that would reform foreign aid – a high priority for the Administration and former Chairman Howard Berman and Chairman John Kerry. However, with the 2010 election and the elevation of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that legislation may well have seen its last day, as her legislative priorities are elsewhere.