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Obama Administration Officials Reflect On Details, Implementation Of Global Health Initiative

Three senior Obama administration officials with global health-related portfolios spoke about the details and implementation of President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative during a forum Wednesday at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“The GHI is not designed to take away from any of the successes [of past programs], but to say ‘let’s recognize what’s been done,” Ann Gavaghan, the chief of staff at the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, said of the initiative. “Let’s recognize what’s worked across the board, not only from the U.S. government but our partners in countries, our partners in multilateral organizations, foundations, and non-governmental organizations, and let’s figure out a way to really build those best practices.” Gavaghan addressed the GHI’s focus on the health needs of women and girls and also discussed how the U.S. plans to work with partner countries to promote “country ownership.”

Amie Batson, deputy assistant administrator for global health at USAID, discussed the formation of a GHI strategic council, which is developing a “whole of government” strategy to further the objectives of the GHI. She also spoke of the ongoing collaboration between USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, CDC Administrator Thomas Frieden and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, who are working together to develop a “shared operational plan and strategy” for the GHI. Batson said an updated version of the consultation document for the GHI’s implementation will be released this summer.

Deborah Birx, director of the Global AIDS Program at the CDC, focused on monitoring and evaluating global health programs. Birx discussed the importance of sharing knowledge about effective strategies, as well as programs that aren’t working. “We don’t want to duplicate mistakes, we want to duplicate successes,” she said.

After prepared remarks from the administration officials, Christopher Elias, president and CEO of PATH, responded to the panel with reaction from his global staff to the GHI, which he said is generally positive and receptive. He also noted considerations – based on observations from discussions with field staff – as GHI planning moves forward, which included considering district and provincial levels when it comes to country ownership.

Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President Peter Long moderated the forum and Foundation Vice President and Director of Global Health Policy and HIV Jen Kates highlighted several questions to frame the discussion of the GHI. The administration officials took questions from the audience of more than 200.

A webcast of the forum is now available. In addition, the Foundation has released a policy brief that analyzes several key issues and questions on the GHI (Evans/Schiff, Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 4/14).

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

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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.