The Power of 1% and Global Health: Saving Lives, Improving Economic Opportunity, Promoting Security

It's a question that business owners across the country are asking themselves every day. They want to make sure they're getting the most out of every dollar. It's an important exercise even in the best economic times. In tough times, it's critical. --Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton


FACT: USAID's efforts in global health have saved millions of lives. According to a recent survey, 56 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government should invest in global health.

USAID's objective is to improve global health, including child, maternal, and reproductive health, reduce the incidence of abortion and infectious disease, particularly HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. To achieve the greatest impact, our programs are focused on reaching the most vulnerable: women and children. By integrating and improving access, we are making it easier for a woman to obtain all of the health services she and her children need in one location so she doesn't have to choose between prenatal care for herself and pediatric care for her children. Our efforts are also working to increase skilled attendance at birth; provide lifesaving vaccines and proper nutrition for children; prevent the transmission of HIV; and end gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination.


We live at a point in time when technology and innovation is reshaping the world and has made it possible for virtually anyone to be an agent of change. Harnessing the power of this untapped repository of innovators and change agents has been a hallmark of USAID's current reform efforts. We are creating new and better ways to develop and deliver low cost, high impact health interventions capable of reaching more people with health services.

Through sustained investments in 30 countries and ongoing technical leadership, USAID made substantial contributions to the overall global reduction of child mortality from an estimated 10.8 million child deaths in 2000 to 7.6 million in 2010, a decrease of nearly 30 percent. Additionally, USAID's targeted interventions to prevent complications during pregnancy and birth helped to reduce maternal mortality between 17% and 48% in eleven countries (DHS), a result supported by recent research that shows a global decline in maternal deaths from 546,000 in 1990 to an estimated 358,000 in 2008. In partnership with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, we have reached 3.2 million people with life-saving antiretroviral therapy, provided care and support for 11 million people affected by HIV/AIDS, and directly supported the provision of medication to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV for more than 600,000 mothers living with HIV in fiscal year 2010 allowing more than 114,000 infants to be born HIV-free.

Global action to combat malaria has saved an estimated 1.1 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. This year alone, an average of 485 children each day are saved from this lethal disease. Of the nine President's Malaria Initiative focus countries where baseline and follow up health surveys have been conducted, mortality among children under five has dropped by 16 to 50 percent.


FACT: Less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget goes to foreign aid (including global health). According to a recent survey, most Americans believe the figure should be 10 percent and are concerned because they think the figure is actually 25 percent.

We know that the status of public health in any nation is inextricably linked to the growth of its economy. In difficult times, investing in global health is a smart move for global economics. Today, the fastest growing markets for American goods are developing countries. Roughly half of all U.S. exports are to developing countries. By creating healthy communities and working conditions we can halt the billions of dollars in lost productivity every year and turn that capacity into a market that will drive future growth.

For every 10 percent increase we see in exports, there is a 7 percent increase in the number of jobs here at home. Exports to developing countries have grown six times faster than exports to major economies, and today they represent roughly half of all U.S. exports. Long-time aid recipients like India, Indonesia, Poland and South Korea and other emerging economies have become America's fastest growing markets. In 2009, we exported more than half-a-trillion dollars in American goods and services to developing countries, and 97% of all US firms that export goods and services are small-and-medium sized businesses.

There are currently 2-3 billion people living in poverty who represent a growing global middle class. By establishing links to these consumers today, we can effectively position American companies to sell them goods tomorrow. For nations that have not traditionally prioritized health, refocusing resources to rebuild or repair fragmented health systems marks a major shift in the way they and we do business.


FACT: USAID's global health programs protect the health of Americans at home and promote security. According to a recent survey, only 43 and 38 percent of Americans, respectively, agree with this statement. Diseases do not respect borders. By preventing the transmission of diseases like measles, polio and tuberculosis in developing countries, we can limit the number of cases that enter the U.S each year. A State Health Commissioner recently noted that preventing diseases abroad is not only good for public health, it saves money here at home. It prevents what she referred to as the million dollar case-or the financial and human resources needed to investigate, track, contain and treat a domestic outbreak.

We also invest in global health to strengthen fragile or failing states because we know children who grow up under the care and influence of a mother, fare better in life. A mother is more likely to ensure her children receive the healthcare services they need; they are more likely to ensure their child is educated; and most importantly they instill morals and ideals that can then be passed on to the next generation.

By helping to prevent fragile states from becoming failed states, and by building stronger economies through trade, enabling women's active participation in the economy, ensuring no mother dies giving life, giving every child a healthy start, and by giving girls and women access to education, we are enhancing our own prosperity and national security. That's why investing in global health isn't just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.


In 2009, President Obama launched the Global Health Initiative (GHI), to improve health outcomes through strengthened platforms and systems. GHI will deliver on that commitment through an approach that is based on a set of core principles, The Global Health Initiative (GHI) is the next chapter in the way U.S. Government agencies conduct global health activities, building on successful bipartisan leadership in global health and expanding their impact for sustainable results around the world. GHI helps partner countries improve health outcomes through strengthened health systems - with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs including infectious disease, nutrition, maternal and child health, family planning, safe water, sanitation and hygiene.