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.