Global Health 101

What is global health?

  • It includes issues that directly or indirectly affect health and often transcend national boundaries;
  • It requires the development and implementation of solutions inclusive of a variety of actors and disciplines;
  • It embraces both prevention in populations and clinical care of individuals; and
  • It emphasizes health equity among nations and for all people is a major objective.

Who are the ‘main players’ in global health internationally?
There are many different actors in global health that function at different levels but all play a valuable role in improving the health and livelihoods of all:

  • Donor governments
  • National governments
  • Multinational organizations
  • Foundations
  • Civil society and nongovernmental organizations
  • Academic institutions
  • Corporations

Who funds global health?
The U.S. is the largest annual donor to health, and donor government funding is a major component of the global health response. The donor mix has diversified over time, as multilateral organizations, private foundations, international financing organizations, and public-private partnerships become increasingly engaged in global health. Influential global health funders include:

Pharmaceutical companies are also positioning themselves as philanthropic leaders in global health spending, as well as select major oil companies.

What are major global health challenges?

  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Polio
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
  • Maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH)
  • Family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH)
  • Nutrition
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

What are examples of global health programs that have worked?

“Responding to hunger and poverty is not a partisan issue…it is a moral issue that people of faith, across the political spectrum, agree upon.”
– John McCullough, Church World Service

Eradicating Smallpox: Though it was decades in the making, the eradication of smallpox only became realistic with the establishment of the World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Unit, which came in tandem with increased technical and financial support from the U.S., the campaign’s largest donor. In May of 1980, smallpox became the first disease to be declared eradicated.

Combating AIDS: PEPFAR – the President’s Emergency Response for AIDS Relief – was created in 2003 through the leadership of President George W. Bush and with bipartisan Congressional support. PEPFAR has blunted the AIDS epidemic in Africa and around the world to the point where an AIDS-free generation is within reach for the first time in human history.

Nearly Eliminating Polio: In the 1980s, polio was endemic in over 120 countries; 350,000 people – mostly children – were paralyzed by the disease each year. Now, the disease is prevalent in only 3 countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – with only 250 cases reported in 2012. U.S. support has helped us get this far, and it will be critical to achieving global eradication.

Within the last decade alone, U.S. global health programs have saved millions of lives:

  • In just three years (2004-2008), it is estimated that PEPFAR saved 740,000 lives in the sub-Saharan African countries that received robust U.S. assistance.
  • Through U.S. support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, more than 9.7 million cases of TB were identified and treated by the end of 2012.
  • Between 2006-2011, 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 percent.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, 50 percent of all new global health products (vaccines, drugs, devices, and diagnostics) were developed with U.S. support.

“Strong national security is dependent on having a strong diplomatic arm, a strong development arm, a strong intelligence arm, a strong capability to try to have strong economies in the world.” 

– Leon Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense 

Global Health Briefing Book
Global Health Briefing Book – 2013
Global Health Briefing Book – 2011