Global Health Initiative deputies update the community; announce plans for more focus countries

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At a meeting convened by the Global Health Council Monday afternoon, deputy principals from the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the CDC updated members of the global AIDS community on the progress of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) – the Obama Administration’s $63 billion, six-year plan calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to global health.

Ann Gavaghan of OGAC and Donald Shriber (right) from the CDC discuss the Global Health Initiative in front of a packed room at the Global Health Council.

The deputy trio – including Amie Batson of USAID, Ann Gavaghan of OGAC and Donald Shriber from the CDC — last convened publicly  in June, when the U.S. government announced the first round of “GHI Plus” countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nepal and Rwanda.

“GHI is something that is going to happen beyond the eight GHI Plus countries – it’s going to happen in all countries,” said Shriber, who then announced that in 2011 they will identify another round of 20-30 countries that will in turn develop their own strategies.

The strategic plans in six of the eight initial GHI Plus countries have been submitted to the USG and are currently under review, with permitted delays due to political issues in the other two countries. Once the review process has been completed, the plans will be publicly released, which the trio said will be by the end of the year. The group also mentioned that an updated GHI strategy document will be released soon, which will take into consideration comments received from the community on the GHI implementation consultation document, with a particular focus on women, girls and gender equality.

(To see the Global Center’s comments on the consultation documentation, click here.)

Shriber also said the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins, MD, PhD, is now leading a committee looking at research and development relevant to the  GHI. One of the things they are looking at: mapping out where USG resources already exist, including health projects and activities, and where there are assets already on the ground, which they can synergize and take advantage of. This falls in line with the GHI’s implementation plan to integrate various government agencies, which they call a “whole-of-government” approach to global health and global assistance.

The topic of funding of the GHI as it moves forward was touched upon briefly at the meeting, with no new light shed on the source of the $200 million needed to supply the GHI Strategic Fund Reserve, some of which is set to come from the fiscal year 2011 budget process, and the rest from existing global health programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Many questions remain about how money for HIV/AIDS and TB programs might be redirected under the GHI – including the fate of a proposal to direct $100 million of the PEPFAR 2011 budget to the GHI Fund. 

As Congress is poised to reconvene next week, the fate of fiscal 2011 funding for global health programs remains unclear and may not be resolved until January.  These programs are now funded under a continuing resolution at fiscal year 2010 levels and it remains to be seen whether the modest, but important increases proposed for HIV, TB and other global health programs in House and Senate versions of the annual foreign assistance funding bills will ever be approved and enacted into law.

Stay tuned to Science Speaks for GHI updates.

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