Global Health: What would Barack do?

As the American Presidential campaign heats up, it is good to see that candidates’ views on the US’s global health agenda is also getting some column space.

Unsurprisingly global health is nowhere near as prominent in the McCain campaign as it is for Obama. Apart from supporting PEPFAR, McCain has been vague on other global health issues.

In a recent CGD Policy Brief, health economist Ruth Levine sets out a systematic to-do list for Obama. Some of her key points are:

  • Work more closely with UN and other multilateral partners
  • Live up to your funding commitments, also smaller ones like those for malaria and child health
  • Make decisions based on scientific evidence, not political or narrow moral preferences
  • Find  a balance between AIDS and non-AIDS health spending (click here for more on this debate)
  • Establish exchange programs for training and research.

Obama’s campaign documents have made extensive commitments around expanding PEPFAR; taking on drug and insurance companies and supporting the Global fund and the MDGs. He has also made promises about adressing health infrastructure and the migration of health workers.

True to form, though, these campaign promises don’t explain how all these promises will be paid for or how  the strong interests that litter the health sector in the US and the rest of the world will be navigated. While Obama may attach more importance to questions of global  health, it only merits one paragraph in his 64 page ‘Blueprint for Change‘. It seems fairly clear therefore that he would only be able to move as far and as quickly on global health as his domestic constituency will let him.

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