U.S. Global Health Funding Should Strengthen Weakened Health Systems Rather Than Target ‘Narrow Initiatives’

The Hill: New administration must look to recent past for global health lessons
Noelle Sullivan, assistant professor of instruction in global health studies and anthropology at Northwestern University, board member of Worldview Education and Care, and public voices fellow with The Op-Ed Project

“…Global health has a long history of bipartisan support and is, frankly, good business. … To truly make a difference, global health initiatives must directly target weakened health systems, not narrow initiatives. … Targeted interventions for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and newborn resuscitation do save lives. But at what cost to health systems? More lives would be saved if global health funding went towards strengthening health systems instead of focusing narrowly on specific ‘magic bullet’ interventions. Funding recipients, working on the front lines and possessing direct knowledge of capacity needs of a given location, should direct global health priorities for their health systems. Strong primary care systems can better deal with non-communicable disease and trauma — massive yet neglected global health problems for which there are no ‘quick fixes’ — not to mention the next outbreak or crisis. Time will tell how the incoming administration will prioritize funding for global health. However, it’s long been obvious to those of us close to the issue that it’s not just about money, but how money is allocated” (1/18).