The U.S. and Global Health

As the largest annual donor to global health, the U.S. is a leader in addressing global health challenges and ensuring healthier futures for everyone.

Why Does the U.S. Invest in Global Health?

  • It protects Americans – Global health affects everyone because disease knows no borders. Recent outbreaks of Ebola and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), as well as other threats, such as avian flu or tuberculosis (TB), show how an interconnected world has increased our vulnerability to health threats.
  • It saves the U.S. money and helps build economic partnerships – Some health challenges such as HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases can have major global political and economic impacts. Good health is part of the foundation for building a stable economy. Poor health hinders one’s ability to access educational opportunities or hold a job. Poor health undermines countries’ development and trade and can reinforce the cycle of poverty and political instability.
  • It demonstrates moral leadership and improves how other countries view the U.S. – U.S. leadership on global health issues provides us with a constructive opportunity in public diplomacy. As a world leader, the U.S. is positioned to assist developing countries through investment in health services and use this assistance to support constructive U.S. engagement with weak and failing states. No diplomatic initiatives can better serve the U.S. interest in winning people’s hearts and minds than investing in global health programs.
  • Its support is bipartisan – Republicans and Democrats alike have continuously stressed the importance of U.S. support for global health programs. The general public also supports U.S. global health funding, with more than two-thirds of Americans saying the U.S. either spends too little or about the right amount on global health.


Examples of U.S. Impact in Global Health

The U.S. supports many programs aimed at improving global health. Here is a sampling of current initiatives:

  • The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)- A “comprehensive, multisectoral approach that expands access to prevention, care and treatment” for those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world.
  • The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)- Launched in 2005, PMI aims to reduce malaria deaths and infection rates, with a long-term goal of malaria eradication.
  • USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Program- Focusing on the scale-up of mass drug administration to target five NTDs, USAID works with partners to achieve control and/or eradication of these diseases.
  • The Global Health Security Agenda- A global initiative led by the U.S. with other nations and international organizations working to promote global health security by preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious diseases and biological threats. The U.S. partners include the CDC, the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Defense, USAID, the Department of State, and the Department of Agriculture.
  • Acting on the Call to End Child and Maternal Deaths- By focusing on providing aid to the 24 countries which account for 70% of maternal and child deaths, this USAID program aims to reduce the number of women who die during childbirth and improve survival rates and overall health of children under age 5.

Here are just a few of the ways U.S. global health programs have saved millions of lives over the last 15 years:

  • In FY2014, PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for over 14 million pregnant women, providing antiretroviral medications to those women who tested positive. This resulted in 95% of these babies being born HIV-free.
  • Through U.S. support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, more than 9.7 million cases of TB were identified and treated by the end of 2012.
  • Between 2006 and 2011, U.S. bilateral programs distributed more than 47 million insecticide-treated bed nets and treated 93 million people for malaria.
  • U.S.-supported immunization programs save more than three million lives each year and since 1988, have reduced cases of polio worldwide by 99%.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, 50% of all new global health products (vaccines, drugs, devices, and diagnostics) were developed with U.S. support.
  • From an innovative public-private partnership, the first-ever vaccine for meningitis A was developed and has been administered to 153 million people in Africa since 2010, eliminating it from three countries by 2013.
  • U.S. leadership and funding to improve the survival and health of mothers and children contributed to the fall of under-five deaths from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013. In the 24 countries where USAID focuses maternal and child health programs, maternal death declined by more than half in these same years.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, more than 50% of all new global health products (vaccines, drugs, devices, and diagnostics) were developed with U.S. support.
  • USAID’s Water and Development Strategy emphasizes sanitation as a crucial component of global health because for every $1.00 invested in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), approximately $4.00 is returned through decreased health care costs and increased economic productivity.


To learn more about the U.S. role in global health, explore our Global Health Briefing Book.