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Blog Posts Respond To GHI Office Closure

In a joint message released by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, and Global Health Initiative (GHI) Executive Director Lois Quam last Tuesday, the Obama administration announced the closure of the GHI office, writing that the office’s work is being “elevated” to the State Department’s new Office of Global Health Diplomacy. The following are summaries of three blog posts published on Monday in response to this announcement.

  • Antigone Barton, Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog: “What did it mean, this drop from upper-case to lower-case initiative? What will end when the GHI office closes? What will begin when the new one is ‘stood up?'” Barton, a regular contributor to the blog, asks. Barton includes quotes from Ann Starrs, president of Family Care International, Donna Barry, advocacy and policy director of Partners In Health, and Quam, who said in an interview with Barton, “People see diplomacy as a strong channel to further global health goals. The thought that that’s what we’re going to be doing more of was very encouraging to people” (7/9).
  • Laurie Garrett, “The Garrett Update”: “Congress has no appetite for increasing spending on foreign assistance or global health programs, and after two years of trying to juggle the relative roles and budgets of health and foreign aid agencies inside the U.S. government, the State Department has decided to try Plan B,” Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes. “The overall health targets outlined by the Administration back in 2009 will not change, but how much money everybody has to work with, who actually runs operations on the ground, coordinates various agencies, and negotiates with other donor nations will swiftly transform,” she adds (7/9).
  • Amanda Glassman, Rachael Silverman, Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog: “Released quietly, on the eve of a national holiday, the post announces a radical change in direction,” Glassman, director of global health policy and a research fellow at the center, and Silverman, a research assistant at the center, write. “The announcement reflects a breakdown of the inter-agency process,” they continue, adding, “It demonstrates a continued lack of political will to address the hard questions that hamper integration, particularly separate earmarked funding streams and parallel, competing institutions within the U.S. government that had different strategies and relationships with recipient country governments.” They conclude that “ambassadorial leadership and increased diplomacy on their own are unlikely to move the GHI goals forward dramatically” (7/9).

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