Oxfam welcomes Global Health Initiative announcement

By Oxfam

WASHINGTON, DC – International humanitarian organization Oxfam America praised the Obama Administration’s announcement of eight pilot countries for the Global Health Initiative (GHI): Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Mali, Malawi, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Guatemala.

Gregory Adams, Director of Aid Effectiveness for Oxfam America, said: “The Global Health Initiative represents an opportunity to change the way we do global health overseas: from a top-down, uncoordinated approach to country owned, demand-driven health aid that saves lives both now and in the future.”

In the pilot countries, US aid for global health is expected to begin the shift toward country ownership and away from the bureaucratic “stovepipes” that can sometimes stand in the way of care. The US approach to global health has been largely uncoordinated across more than 12 US agencies that implement global health programs overseas, which results in burdensome reporting requirements for countries. If fully embraced and implemented, the updated plan will have the potential to more adequately strengthen local health systems, and shift global health aid to where it is needed most.

"The Global Health Initiative could be a step in the right direction,” said the former Minister of Health of Mozambique, Dr Francisco Songane. “It is extremely important to take a comprehensive approach and in a long term perspective, assisting the countries in need in the implementation of their development strategies. The initiative gives primacy to the needs of women and children, including the newborn, which underscores the centrality of the family for the improvement of the health status and socio-economic development, while highlighting the urgency of having functional health systems."

Oxfam America anticipates the release of the implementation roadmap in late summer, and the rollout of the program beyond the pilot countries to all 80 countries where the US provides global health assistance. Crucial to this rollout will be full integration into broader efforts to make US aid more effective. 

Adams said: “In advance of the MDG Summit in September, we hope the Obama Administration will incorporate the GHI plan into a unified global development strategy for fighting poverty and disease.”

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