Remarks on President's Global Health Initiative

Jacob J. Lew
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources 
Remarks from White House Briefing
Washington, DC
May 5, 2009

DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Thank you, Robert. The President's global health initiative is a critical component of our foreign policy, and it's a key element of what we mean when we talk about smart power.


As the United States continues to lead on global health -- global HIV/AIDS, on tuberculosis, on malaria -- we now have the opportunity to take an extraordinary step to save the lives of more women, children and families in the developing world. We have the opportunity to cost-effectively contribute to political stability in a way that enhances our national security, while advancing our core humanitarian values.


At a time when few believed that large-scale AIDS treatment could be brought to the developing world, something was done. A bold approach under President Bush, PEPFAR -- the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- now provides lifesaving treatment for over 2 million people. That's up from just 50,000 six years ago. Dramatic gains have also been achieved under the Malaria Initiative, which in its third year alone has already reached more than 32 million people in 15 African countries with highly effective malaria interventions. We are here today to build on these bipartisan accomplishments over the past few years.


The administration will release its budget this week, and in the area of global health we're going to be investing $63 billion in an integrated approach over six years to address some of the biggest global health challenges. In addition to continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, our budget will increase resources for maternal and child health, family planning, and neglected tropical diseases. This is an example of what we can do when we invest in smart power through development and diplomacy.


Some of the health issues that have had the most negative impact on quality and length of life are those which we already have the knowledge and tools to eliminate. Research shows that a handful of neglected diseases could be eliminated with relatively modest resources and a sustained commitment. Basic obstetric care can exponentially reduce the number of mothers and children who die in child birth. The most basic health interventions for things like anti-diarrheal disease can dramatically decrease the mortality of children under five.


We need to harness the energy and focus that has made such a difference in addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB to tackle this broader range of health care challenges. In many parts of the world the United States has responded, often at high cost, to situations of conflict that result from the cycle of poverty and disease. As Secretary Clinton has often said, disease and poor health are both a cause and consequence of poverty. Our investment today in building partnerships to share our knowledge and expertise in scaling up the simple solutions that can save many millions of lives, and in laying the foundations of basic and preventing health care are all ways in which we seek to address problems today, to avert costly crises tomorrow.


Our announcement today exemplifies a strategy we're bringing to bear across our foreign aid programs. Even as we address crises in regions with conflict, we need to make the investments necessary to prevent such crises from occurring in the future. We are ramping up efforts to fight poverty, food insecurity, and disease, with solutions that will leave behind the tools to sustain long-term progress. The State Department looks forward to leading an effort, working closely with other agencies and with our partners in and outside of government and with other nations, working closely with other agencies like USAID, PEPFAR, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to develop a coordinated approach so this global health initiative can be implemented upon enactment of the 2010 budget.


Thank you.