Dear colleagues in global health,
It was early 2019 when Global Health Council last released our briefing book, a guide for new members of Congress and their staff outlining the most pressing issues in global health and opportunities for action. That was somewhat foreboding, given how we cautioned even then about the cost of inaction. Here we are today, having seen COVID-19 threaten decades of progress in global health, testing the resilience of U.S. initiatives and highlighting the need for stronger health systems around the world.
This edition of the briefing book speaks to how we not only improve global pandemic preparedness and response but also rebuild the global health workforce and essential pillars of primary care that have buckled under the weight of the pandemic. It also reminds us of the range of global health gains at risk and how to protect longstanding community programs and international partnerships from stalling or losing ground. More than ever, this year’s recommendations – authored by Global Health Council members and partners – tell a complete story of global health challenges and urgent needs, emphasizing connections across silos and countries. It’s not just about saving our so-called investments but ultimately the people we aim to serve worldwide.
In case the COVID crisis isn’t motivating enough, the statistics and stories presented are meant to inspire old and new champions alike to reimagine what is necessary and possible in global health. For example, how do we finally blend public and private partnerships in a way that fuels rapid innovation for the greater good? In what ways could we better integrate research and practice? Will we finally address the inextricable link between infrastructure, income, or inequity and health? And why not follow the lead of country experts and multilateral partners, if that makes us more successful? One thing I know for sure is that global health must be elevated and evolve to meet the moment. Business as usual will not be enough; we perish in the status quo.
But there is a silver lining to all we’ve endured this past year: policymakers are listening. So let’s say something worthwhile. Talk about the great American legacy in global health and how that works when done well. Show them that more resources and flexibility are critical to going even further. Tell them we are committed to reinventing ourselves, too, open to how the U.S. global health architecture must transform to be even more broad and inclusive. We have the spotlight and their attention. We know what’s required to make things right. We can do this.