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For Immediate Release
Contacts: Melanie Boyer, Center for Health and Gender Equity, (202) 393-5930
Blair Hinderliter, RESULTS Educational Fund, (202) 783-4800 x126
Matthew Kavanagh, Health GAP, (202) 486-2488

The State of Global Health in President Obama's State of the Union Address:
Without Full Funding and Sound Policy, Bold Promise at Risk of Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2009 — The Global Health Initiative (GHI) Working Group, a coalition of expert advocacy and service organizations working on global health priorities, today applauded President Obama’s mention of the importance of global health, and his six-year global health initiative. However, the coalition warned that the GHI’s potential to save millions of lives could be largely missed without bold targets, aggressive changes to U.S. foreign policy and assistance, and twice the currently proposed funding.

In reference to the GHI, the President stated, “We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease - a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad.”

Building on a report the group released last year, The Future of Global Health, the coalition called on the President and Congress to make the potential of this effort into a reality for people living in poverty around the world.

The group’s statement charged, “The Global Health Initiative could position the United States to help save lives, build economies, and strengthen human security through addressing the world’s major health crises. But the success of this initiative will rest on whether the President sets bold, U.S.-specific targets, develops strategic and effective policies, and delivers a budget that will fully fund the program. We need to ensure that we move into a new era of accountability for results, and the President and Congress need to assure the 2011 budget supports that.”

The Global Health Initiative Working Group is calling on the Obama Administration to:

· Increase funding levels to $16 billion in 2011: The evidence of commitment will be whether the Obama budget adds significant new resources across each of these priorities or whether it moves already planned increases from one priority to another. 2011 will already be the 3rd year of a six-year initiative. Without significant new financing, health outcomes for those living in poverty will show only marginal improvement.

· Set measurable, U.S.-specific targets to ensure accountability, results-based funding: If the U.S. is serious about building on what works, setting bold targets for which leaders will be held accountable is key to a new vision of health aid. According to the group’s report, The Future of Global Health, a bold U.S. initiative could ensure:

o Another 35 million births take place in facilities that provide quality care, and 10 million more couples could access modern family planning.
o AIDS treatment could be rolled out to 6 million more people, while 12 million new infections are prevented.
o Full-course basic tuberculosis treatment could be scaled up, saving as many as 21 million additional lives.
o Malaria burden could be reduced by 75 percent in 15 countries.
o One million new midwives, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals could be trained in all areas, including tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, child health, etc.

· Focus on the people it serves: Effective policy is not developed in a vacuum. The group has called for GHI structures and policies to ensure affected communities are driving U.S. policy in a new way. The GHI must meet its own goals of being human rights-based, country-driven, accountable and participatory with a woman-centered focus through real and meaningful involvement of those affected at all levels, while explicitly tackling the needs of the most marginalized.

About the Global Health Initiative Working Group

The GHI Working Group is an independent coalition of 25 civil society organizations with expertise in the six GHI priority areas. In October, the Coalition released its report, The Future of Global Health: Ingredients for Bold and Effective Initiative, at an event in Washington, D.C., featuring members of Congress and experts and community members from the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean. The report is available at www.theglobalhealthinitiative.org <http://www.theglobalhealthinitiative.org> .

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