The Politicking of Global Health

Like any other issue, the United States’ global health policy is determined and defined by the nation’s strategic interests. What country to invest in? What research to fund? What programs are implemented? All of these questions have a single answer – the decision is based on what will help us, more.

Is this decision making process correct? I do not believe so. I believe that resources, both monetary and otherwise, should be allocated based on need, or what study has the most promise, or what program will help the most people. As much as I am an idealist, I am not naïve; I understand the world we live in and how politics, rhetoric, sound bytes, and the art of the spin, play are larger and more powerful role than they should.

But here we are, and advocates for global health issues and policies that do not receive the attention or funding they need, should pay attention. Learn how to spin your issue. Figure out how to make it an issue that directly affects national security or economic development. Make sure that a politician can step foot on the floor of their respective chambers, and give an impassioned speech on the direct link between your issue and the betterment of the American people. Stuckler and McKee (2008) discuss 5 metaphors about global health policy. Commit these to memory, and be able to manipulate your issue so that it may fit into several of these frames.

Like it or not, this is how money is allocated. This is how your issue becomes part of U.S. foreign policy.



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