Global Health Should Be Major U.S. Foreign Policy Concern According to New CFR-Milbank Publication

January 8, 2003

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April 19, 2001 – Health epidemics have killed more people than wars in the part decades and have the potential to seriously damage societies throughout the world, says a new Council on Foreign Relations-Milbank Memorial Fund Report by CFR Senior Fellow Jordan Kassalow, "Why Health is Important to U.S. Foreign Policy."

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The study goes on to say that these health problems -- hoof-and-mouth and mad cow diseases, HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant microorganisms, and infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria – cannot be dealt with adequately through individual policies but must become part of the general foreign policy of the United States.

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In order to incorporate these health problems as a more central component of an overall foreign policy that aims to produce stable governments, peace, democracy, economic development, and free trade, Kassalow urges Washington to:

-- add over one billion dollars to the annual budget for programs that fight HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, improve maternal health and child survival, and bolster a global health surveillance system;

-- encourage the United Nations, World Bank and IMF to increase investments in health system development;

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-- ensure that people in need have access to essential drugs and vaccines;

-- and work harder to ensure the safety of the shared global food supply.

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The report concludes that improving the health of people in other countries makes both strategic and moral sense. A foreign policy that gives higher priority to international health is good for the United States and good for the world, and it is a principle that can attract widespread agreement.

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