Global Health Service Partnership 'Could Be The Start Of Something Big'

Writing in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Claire Panosian Dunavan, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles, reflects on the Global Health Service Partnership, a new public-private partnership launched by Vanessa Kerry, daughter of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) “to boost the education of doctors and nurses in sub-Saharan Africa.” She asks, “Will it fly? Or — to put it more bluntly — is global health still tugging at American heartstrings?” She highlights the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park last month, a five-hour concert sponsored by the Global Poverty Project that “drew 60,000 attendees and millions of dollars for health issues ranging from maternal care to mosquito nets to wiping out polio” and draws comparison to Bob Geldof’s 1985 “Live Aid” concert, which she says “reached nearly two billion people in 150 countries via broadcasts and satellite links” and “marked a milestone in global health awareness.”

“Of course, whether ‘Live Aid’ actually made a difference is questionable,” Dunavan continues, noting, “Since 1985, African famines have continued to rage, children from ‘the bottom billion’ have continued to die, and countless foreign aid dollars have flowed to governments and officials who, in some cases, could care less about their poorest citizens.” She writes, “Nonetheless, we are overdue for new forms of global health aid that offer not just dollars but skilled, motivated workers. That’s where Vanessa Kerry’s fledgling program comes in.” She briefly describes the program, notes that “hundreds of inquiries and applications from passionate professionals have flooded in,” and writes, “The larger global health community should also be cheering. This new ‘medical Peace Corps’ could be the start of something big” (10/23).

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