Obama Administration Names Eight ‘GHI Plus’ Countries

“The Obama administration has selected eight countries to serve as learning labs for a new global health strategy aimed in part at reducing maternal and child deaths and combatting preventable diseases,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The move is among the first steps in the administration’s” roll-out of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) and “comes amid mounting concerns about how much support President Barack Obama will win from Congress for a proposed 9% increase in global health spending for fiscal 2011,” the newspaper reports.

According to the article, “administration officials familiar with the plan” said Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nepal and Rwanda will receive “technical assistance and other resources,” which they hope will help U.S. officials “learn how to streamline and integrate disease programs managed by disparate U.S. agencies and to work more closely with foreign governments to combat killer diseases” (McKay, 6/18).

A joint State Department, USAID and HHS press release issued Friday explains that the eight nations will comprise “the first set of ‘GHI Plus’ countries” (6/18). The experiences gained from the work in the eight countries will be used to inform how the U.S. works with other countries “that receive U.S. global-health assistance, officials said,” the Wall Street Journal continues.

The article details the selection process for the GHI Plus countries and several efforts likely to be part of the project before noting how much money the countries will receive for their programs remains “unclear.” According to the newspaper, “Administration officials played down the importance of additional funding for the eight countries, arguing that technical assistance and looking for ways to find efficiencies were more important. ‘The added benefit is more around the management and technical support rather than the funds,’ a senior administration official said.”

The piece includes comments by Smita Baruah, director of government relations for the Global Health Council, who expresses concern that the U.S. congress might be hesitant to “bump up funding for global health” this year, and Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, who addresses the fact that the new administration’s approach to global health is shifting resources away from PEPFAR (6/18).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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