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Obama Administration Announces GHI Office Closure, Says Work Will Move To Office Of Global Diplomacy

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the closure of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) office, and GHI Executive Director Lois Quam told GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog in an interview that the office’s work is being “elevated” to the State Department’s Office of Global Diplomacy, a move that “lifts up the GHI to the highest levels of diplomacy in the U.S. government,” she said (Donnelly, 7/3). In a joint message released on Tuesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, and Quam provided an update on the next phase of GHI, saying, “At the State Department, the GHI Office (S/GHI) will close and the Office of Global Health Diplomacy (S/GHD) will be stood up.” According to the joint statement, GHI “will continue as the priority global health initiative of the U.S. Government” and “will continue to function with a collaborative leadership structure headed by the three core entities — USAID, CDC, OGAC — and with the enduring mandate of ensuring the GHI principles are implemented in the field to achieve our ambitious GHI goals” (7/3).

“By shifting from what was too often an internal focus to a strong external focus, we feel this diplomacy focus is important in order to bring more resources to achieve GHI targets,” Quam said, according to the blog, adding, “Diplomacy allows us to work with partner countries and donor countries in a stronger way.” The blog also says that some “global health observers outside the government say that GHI ran into problems from the start and never fully found its place inside the Obama administration, which has put much less high-level attention on global health than its predecessor, the Bush administration” (7/3).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.