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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."
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.
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;
-- 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.
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.