Today, we bring you a new occasional feature on DipNote: "Readers Write." Look for more comments -- and replies -- highlighted on the blog in the weeks to come!
In response to a previous blog posting, Dr. Eileen N. in California had written:
"Focusing on health in children is important, but their adult parents must be healthy too. Any global health care system strengthening program must include provision for sustainable changes and improvements to the entire healthcare system no matter what age the people it serves may be. Although admirable and a start, a healthy child program runs the risk of consuming healthcare resources at the expense of the greater good, just as disease specific programs do. Broaden the program out in order to create healthy families and healthy communities."Jennifer Klein, who works on global health policy topics in the Office of Global Women's Issues, replies:
You raise a very good point. The “Thousand Days” initiative was created to deliberately focus on child and maternal nutrition within a narrowly-defined (and crucial) time period, but that doesn't mean that other programs and initiatives don't -- or shouldn't -- take a broader view.
The U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), for example, prioritizes sustainability and a holistic conceptualization of health. This worldwide program seeks to strengthen existing health systems and develop countries' capacity to improve the health of their people. It recognizes that, for instance, improving women's health means successfully tackling the economic, cultural, social, and legal barriers that put obstacles in the way of their care. This means taking on gender-based violence, a lack of educational and economic opportunity, and harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage and female genital mutilation. The Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues has been active in promoting this initiative.
The Global Health Initiative will help the U.S. integrate and coordinate its many global health programs so they meet the range of needs women, children and families face in the developing world. Secretary Clinton's recent address on the initiative explains the vision. You can also see examples of the GHI in action in the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We believe that providing a variety of programs, coordinated through GHI, allows us to be nimble and responsive to changing healthcare needs around the world and to adapt our strategies to different regions and cultures on the basis of “lessons learned.” You can follow some of those stories on DipNote (e.g., Swaziland's Bold Leadership in Fighting HIV/AIDS; Reproductive Health Care in Crisis Situations), and we hope to bring you more in the future.
Thanks for your thought-provoking comment!