Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a $63 billion, 6-year health initiative to help people in the world's poorest countries.
The lion's share of the money, $51 billion, will go toward existing programs: the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR; and programs to fight malaria and tuberculosis. The remaining $12 billion will go toward other health problems, such as diseases that are a symptom of extreme poverty.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that despite global health programs initiated largely by the Bush administration, which helped to save millions of lives from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, still, 26,000 children around the world die every day from extreme poverty and preventable diseases:
"In response, the President's 2010 budget begins to focus attention on broader global health changes, including child and maternal health, family planning, and neglected tropical diseases, with cost-effective intervention. It also provides robust funding for HIV/AIDS. The initiative adopts a more integrative approach to fighting diseases, improving health and strengthening health systems."
The Global Health Initiative will also focus on health problems that could be eliminated with relatively little investment and a sustained commitment, such as diarrheal diseases and lack of obstetric care.
The Global Health Initiative is to be a crucial component of the Obama administration's foreign policy, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton:
"Bringing better health to people around the globe is an avenue to a more secure, stable, and prosperous world. ... With the President’s new initiative and expanded focus, we have an opportunity to further leverage our technical knowledge and expertise, build stronger regional and global partnerships, and use our resources to expand the promise of good health that is the foundation of stronger and more stable families, communities, and societies," said Secretary of State Clinton.
President Barack Obama put it another way: "We cannot wall ourselves off from the world and hope for the best, nor ignore the public health challenges beyond our borders," said President Obama. "Public health crises abroad can cause widespread suffering, conflict, and economic contraction. The world is interconnected, and that demands an integrated approach to global health."
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