by Jenny Dyer, Ph.D.
November 13, 2009
by Jenny Dyer
FROM Kaiser Family Foundation: The Foundation has issued its latest global health survey, Views on the U.S. Role in Global Health Update, which probes American public opinion about efforts by the United States to improve the health of people in developing nations. According to the poll findings, most Americans support current U.S. spending to improve health conditions in poorer nations despite the economic recession. Two thirds of the public supports maintaining (32%) or increasing (34%) spending on global health, while a quarter say the country is spending too much. More of the public prefers an emphasis on health infrastructure rather than fighting specific diseases. When asked to rank the importance of the two approaches, 58 percent say it is more important to emphasize programs that help countries build their health system infrastructure, under the theory that stronger health systems can better handle a variety of problems. In contrast, 36 percent say it is more important to emphasize efforts to fight specific diseases like AIDS and malaria because efficient methods for treating such diseases already exist and can save large numbers of lives. All the survey materials are available online.
This is interesting and great news given our economic climate that the majority of Americans still care deeply about helping those with the fewest resources worldwide. I find intriguing that the American public has marched forward from embracing the issues of HIV/AIDS and the global pandemic, or malaria and the need for bednets, to realizing the need for health systems, working together, to build infrastructure for smart, efficient use of assistance. Health systems and health infrastructure are far from sexy topics, but that is what is needed and needed now.
HTHH addresses the issue of health infrastructure through our support of training community health workers through our Frist Global Health Leaders program, offering health professional students and residents the opportunity to serve and train in underserved clinics around the world. We know strengthening health systems is key to moving toward the millennium goals.