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Becky Bowers
By Becky Bowers November 15, 2012

Obama administration didn't launch G8 global health infrastructure effort

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised to take the lead in a global effort to boost health care infrastructure, working with a group of industrialized countries and the private sector. The campaign called this effort "Health Infrastructure 2020."

That G8-centered infrastructure effort has largely failed to materialize. "What happened to health at the G8?" wrote Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, an independent Washington think tank.

That's not to say the United States has been absent from global health efforts. "The U.S. government under the Obama administration has been a big supporter of global health in the context of extreme fiscal pressures," Glassman told PolitiFact.

The White House mentioned to us global efforts across five U.S. agencies to fight HIV and AIDS, monitor disease, strengthen health systems and organize meetings around global health security.

"We'd suggest this has been a commitment we've kept. Perhaps not in name, but in substance," spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said.

Still, leadership through the G8 on health infrastructure hasn't shined through.

Just one example: The United States hosted the Group of Eight industrialized nations in May 2012. Global health wasn't even a main topic in the group's Camp David Declaration. It ranked behind the economy, energy and climate change, food security and nutrition, transitions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa, and various political and security issues.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration's Global Health Initiative, pitched as a six-year, $63 billion effort to consolidate U.S. efforts in more than 80 countries, has never been fully funded and hasn't delivered on its goals. (Though health advocates note it did do some good in terms of integrating U.S. efforts.)

The Obama administration's record on global health gets some applause for helpful initiatives and a commitment even as the world economies struggled. But we've seen no evidence it took "the lead at the G-8" to launch a major health infrastructure initiative. We rate this Promise Broken.

Our Sources

Email interview with Caitlin Hayden, White House spokesperson, Nov. 14, 2012

Email interview with Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, Nov. 14, 2012

State Department, "G8 Summit 2012," accessed Nov. 12, 2012

State Department, "About the G8," accessed Nov. 12, 2012

Council on Foreign Relations, "Backgrounder: The Group of Eight (G8) Industrialized Nations," March 27, 2009

Council on Foreign Relations, "The Global Health Regime," Aug. 21, 2012

White House, "Statement by the President on Global Health Initiative," May 5, 2009

U.S. Government Global Health Initiative, Strategy Document, accessed Nov. 14, 2012

White House, "Fact Sheet: Global Health Security," Sept. 22, 2011

White House, "President Obama"s Global Development Policy and the Global Health Initiative," accessed Nov. 14, 2012

White House, "Remarks by the President at Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security," May 18, 2012

Kaiser Family Foundation, "Kaiser Family Foundation Resources on the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI)," Nov. 12, 2010

The Lancet, "The US Global Health Initiative: where does it stand?" May 2012, via Nexis

Center for Global Development's Global Health Policy blog, "What Happened to Health at the G-8?" March 21, 2012

Center for Global Development's Global Health Policy blog, "Failure to Launch: A Post-Mortem of GHI 1.0," July 9, 2012, "Global Health Initiative update leaves us wanting more," March 4, 2011

Frontline Health Workers Coalition, "Frontline Health Workers Coalition Statement on GHI Principle Paper on Health Systems Strengthening," Oct. 26, 2012

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 11, 2010

Funding for international health is up, but no sign of G-8 health infrastructure effort

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to take the lead at the G-8, the group of eight leading industrialized countries, to work with and leverage "the private sector and private philanthropy to launch Health Infrastructure 2020 – a global effort to work with developing countries to invest in the full range of infrastructure needed to improve and protect both American and global health."

Perhaps the administration is working on this project behind the scenes, but we were unable to find any public references to progress on this initiative in searches using, Google or Nexis.

On global health more generally, the administration has provided additional funding. For instance, the amount budgeted through the State Department and the Agency for International Development for Global Health and Child Survival is set to increase from almost $7.1 billion in fiscal year 2009 to $7.7 billion in fiscal year 2010, according to the appropriations bill signed by the president in December.

Despite this, Obama's specific promise on a G-8-led effort to boost health infrastructure across the globe appears to be Stalled.

Our Sources

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