Global health policy: Obama’s next step in improving the reputation of the U.S.

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has focused largely on foreign policy in order to mend the relationships between the U.S. and the rest of the world. And for now, the President has invested much of his time in domestic health policy, but once that’s behind us (if it ever is behind us…), might he choose to actively address global health policy matters in an effort to further improve the reputation of the country?

In David Stuckler’s “Five metaphors about global-health policy,” he explains that political leaders often take on global health as an opportunity “to create a positive worldwide reputation and exert political influence, forging alliances with countries where they have strategic interests, opening new markets for trade…” While Obama has been aiming to do just this, he hasn’t chosen global health policy as a means to this end, but if he were to focus on it more, he might just be able to turn the tables and bring America back into a positive light.

So far, Obama has proposed a $63 billion, six-year global health initiative and has promised to continue the efforts of PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief founded by former President George W. Bush, against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And although he has also made plans to expand the global health efforts to tackle other common and deadly diseases, he needs to work harder to affect parts of the world that aren’t suffering from these prominent diseases.

In an initial effort to reach more people, especially outside of Africa, Obama’s Global Health Budget proposal decreased PEPFAR funding by $6.6 billion dollars from $57.6 billion, and almost doubled funding for other global health priorities. Current authorization for funding of other global health priorities is $6.8 billion, while Obama hopes to allocate $12 billion.

The President is already thinking about the broader picture. Ultimately, Stuckler is on to something that could seriously help Obama mend relationships and salvage America’s credibility and her reputation. Stuckler states: “Global-health priorities follow foreign-policy goals.” If that’s the case, then Obama could prioritize global health, naturally benefiting the world and indirectly benefiting the country. Addressing global health policy could be Obama’s next major strategy to improve the reputation of the U.S.

But is it fair to proceed with these intentions? As the leader of the U.S., of course. As a world leader, it’s questionable…


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