On October 3, PSI hosted a speaker series discussing how less than 1% of the federal budget builds stronger economies, saves lives and protects our borders. The three-part series moderated by Michael Gerson (Washington Post Columnist and Senior Advisor at ONE) focused on economy, national security and saving lives, and ultimately the support of global health programs.
Here are some highlights:
Panel 1: Improving economic opportunity
Sometimes, choosing the right words is everything. Dr. Karl Hofmann (President and CEO of PSI) did not talk about foreign aid, but about foreign investment that pays dividends to both the recipients and the American people. Mike Casella (Director of Office of Budget and Resource Management, USAID) stressed that such investments lead to economic growth of developing countries, which in turn is beneficial for the US. This statement was further supported by Dr. Halima Mwenesi (Director of Public Policy Initiatives for the Global Health Population and Nutrition Group, FHI Development 360) who discussed the impact of malaria on all aspects of people’s lives. Since only healthy people can create and grow markets and economies, supporting global health programs is, to a certain extent, an economic investment.
Dr. Mark Feinberg (Vice President and Chief Public Health and Science Officer at Merck Vaccines) talked about the increasingly growing multinational character of companies and about their need to be engaged in the field to become truly global. “Success depends on partnership,” Dr. Feinberg said,” and that is true about both public and private sectors. Investments into global health should thus be viewed as future opportunities, and not as a global burden.”
Panel 2: Promoting national security
Dr. Otto Chabikuli (Country Director Nigeria, FHI 360 and Deputy Chief of Party, Global HIV/AIDS Initiative Nigeria – GHAIN – Project) summarized the topic of this panel in the very beginning: “Root cause of threats is now more ideological than physical. Ideologies know no borders. By doing foreign assistance as we do, we mitigate the vulnerability of a pool of people who could otherwise be recruited by extremist ideology.” As we learned from the previous panel, only healthy people are able to grow markets and growing markets help to stabilize communities and countries. Healthy people are thus crucial to a safe world.
According to Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer (U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID), there is not a direct link between foreign assistance and national security, but there are many ways to connect the dots. Ambassador Mark Green (Senior Director, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition) pointed out that foreign assistance in global health is the best type of partnership building, and if success depends on partnership when it comes to economic growth, it does so in the arena of national security as well.
If we imagined the world through the eyes of parents seeing their children die of diseases that can be prevented with less than a dollar, as Amie Batson (Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID) suggested, we would see a world of despair. By promoting global health, we prevent abject poverty that causes despair and thus contribute to the national security of the US.
Panel 3: Saving lives
Global action to combat malaria has saved an estimated 1.1 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade and that is only one of many success stories in the global health arena. According to Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez (Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID), we are in the middle of a very positive global health revolution. Sheila Nix (U.S. Executive Director, ONE) stressed not only that we are very close to so many successes, but also that if we stop supporting programs saving lives now, we might lose all the results achieved so far. Dr. Ayo Ajayi (Vice President, Field Programs, PATH) closed the circle by taking the audience back to the first panel when he made an analogy between foreign assistance and markets: “Timing is everything. If you sell your stock at the wrong time, you’re going to lose. If we stop foreign assistance at the wrong time, we’re going to lose.”
Authored by Barbora Nemcova, MCHIP Communications Assistant