U.S. Should Continue To Invest In ‘Strategic Health Diplomacy’ For ‘Clear Security Benefits’

Foreign Policy: Foreign Aid Makes America Safer
Vin Gupta, major in the United States Air Force Medical Corps and fellow at Harvard’s Global Health Institute; and Vanessa Kerry, CEO of Seed Global Health, director in global initiatives at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Global Health, and director of global public policy at Harvard Medical School

“…Our findings suggest that when lower- and lower-middle-income nations facing overwhelming health challenges receive significant support for their health systems, there are immediate benefits for state stability. In other words, giving health aid to countries with the highest rates of HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria, as is the mission of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, not only saves lives but also appears to facilitate the rise of more peaceful societies. This link between health aid and peace underpins the concept of ‘strategic health diplomacy,’ which has gained greater currency in the past decade since the roll out of the presidential AIDS program. … Unfortunately, foreign spending has become an easy political target in many countries at a time when economic inequality is increasing. … The reality is that there is not a domestic versus international trade-off. Investment in health and development abroad has clear security benefits for Americans at home. … As the Trump administration cuts foreign aid, hollows out the State Department, and reverses a long history of global engagement, policymakers must not forget the importance of reaching outward. There is now hard evidence that foreign assistance, especially in health, is precisely the type of investment that any administration should increase if it is seeking cost-effectiveness. To do otherwise would be myopic and is not in the United States’ long-term national security interests” (4/11).

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