As I shared in an earlier blog posting, IntraHealth continues to reflect on the evolving role of international organizations in the rapidly changing global health landscape. As more information is announced about the US Global Health Initiative (GHI), we continue to be encouraged by the thoughtful and comprehensive approach that our government is taking in designing and rolling out this Initiative. We are also pleased by the level of transparency the government is exhibiting in keeping the public aware of its evolving plans. This is evidenced both by the selection of the “GHI Plus” countries and the establishment of a “whole of government” approach to GHI governance and implementation.
USAID and its development partners have had productive, decades-long relationships with the governments and civil society actors in the eight selected GHI Plus countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nepal and Rwanda. IntraHealth is proud to have worked in partnership with each of these countries, in some cases for up to 30 years. Over that time span, the global health community has witnessed great progress in the creation of vibrant, sustainable public and private sector local institutions run by visionary, results-oriented leaders and in marked improvements in health status of populations in these and other countries.
Organizations like IntraHealth have played and continue to play essential roles in supporting these institutions and bringing about the desired health improvements. The additional GHI resources going toward these eight countries will be a strategic investment in demonstrating that the critical elements underpinning the GHI approach—local ownership, integration, capacity building and systems strengthening—can lead to more lasting and comprehensive achievement of each country’s own health and development goals and targets.
In addition, we applaud the US government’s creation of a GHI Operations Committee that will oversee GHI implementation and report to the GHI Strategic Council. As described by the USG press reports, the Operations Committee will include the USAID Administrator, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, and the Director of the CDC. All too many USG implementing agencies have witnessed frustrating examples at the country level of US agency infighting and competition for resources and influence. I am optimistic that the concrete steps made at the highest levels will serve as meaningful models for coordination, information sharing and partnership.