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February 19, 2019

Securing Global Health Investments by “Connecting the Dots”

By Jonathan Kluczynski

The Georgetown community had the privilege to host a discussion with Loyce Pace, president and executive director of the Global Health Council (GHC). Pace is a leader in leveraging the power of collaboration and collective action to improve global health through sound investments, policies, and services. A lively discussion with Pace centered on investment, collaboration, and coordination in global health.

Pace prefaced that since 2003, when former president George W. Bush announced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the U.S. government has been the largest donor to global health in the world and has been a leader in improving the health of millions of people worldwide. Moreover, there has been strong consensus that global health programs have been one of the great success stories of U.S. foreign assistance, and, as such, global health programs have received strong bipartisan support. 

Pace noted that in Fiscal Year 2018, U.S. global health funding totaled $10.8 billion and has remained relatively flat since Fiscal Year 2010. However, the president’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request proposed to reduce global health funding to $8.3 billion, its lowest since Fiscal Year 2008. Although Congress struck down the president’s budget request with bipartisan support, Pace discussed that with the change in presidential administration and with many new and intensifying crises jostling the political agenda, the future of U.S. global health is uncertain. 

Pace commented that many diseases that threatened millions of people only a decade ago are diminishing and that we are in sight of attaining an AIDS-free generation, ending preventable child and maternal deaths, and eradicating several diseases. However, if the U.S. fails to meet its commitments, the achievements made in reducing incidences of disease could stagnate or even reverse. Accordingly, to ensure that we reach global health milestones, secure further gains, and address new challenges, Pace asserted that global health actors must champion strong collaborations with other countries, donors, and partners to garner strong political commitments and investments. 

Pace remarked that the moral case has always resonated in global health, but that the nature of global health advocacy has changed markedly. Now, global health advocates must come to the table with different ways of talking about global health. Donors now want to know what is in it for them (e.g., money, safety, power) and why they should care about doing the right thing. In her role with GHC, Pace reflected on being at the front line of a new era in global health advocacy. She commented that the success of global health rests on “connecting the dots.” It depends on connecting global health objectives to what people care about in order to recruit new partners to integrate into the global health agenda. It takes convincing people that furthering global health objectives is not only the right thing to do, but is the smart thing to do. Pace highlighted that to strengthen the political prioritization of the global health agenda, global health investment, and global health programming and services, we must strengthen the global health network by fortifying existing partnerships and integrating new partnerships into the network.

Pace ended by expressing that we, as global health actors, must stand together. Because we are so interconnected, we cannot think in terms of winners and losers. When one loses, we all lose. 

Jonathan Kluczynski (SFS’20) is an undergraduate studying science, technology, and international affairs, and is a student fellow with the Global Health Initiative.

This blog was written by a student in Georgetown’s Conversations in Global Health course, which brings leaders in global health to Georgetown to discuss their careers and work.