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On April 14, Dr. Christopher J. Elias, PATH’s president and CEO, participated in the first open public discussion with high-level US government officials about President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.

Launched last year, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) is a six-year, $63 billion initiative to develop a comprehensive global health strategy that seeks to better integrate US global health efforts. The initiative builds on existing efforts to address HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis and increases attention to maternal and child health, family planning, health systems strengthening, and other areas. The event, hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, also served as the launch for the foundation’s policy brief on the GHI.

Dr. Elias was invited to provide feedback on the GHI from the perspective of an organization involved in helping to implement US government–supported global health initiatives around the world and to discuss some of the potential challenges. To inform his remarks, Dr. Elias gathered feedback from PATH staff in the field, who responded with enthusiasm for the new initiative. Dr. Elias shared PATH’s support for the GHI’s focus on country ownership and urged the GHI to focus on health not only at the national level but also at the district and community levels to bring appropriate health solutions to the varied challenges countries often face.

Dr. Elias also highlighted the need to create demand for a more efficient and higher-quality health care system in communities by working with civil society, community, and faith-based organizations, as well as the private sector. He applauded the theme of innovation that appears throughout the GHI but noted the need to also prioritize innovation for the development of new health tools and technologies.

US agency representatives on the panel included Amie Batson, deputy assistant administrator for global health, US Agency for International Development; Deborah Birx, director of the Global AIDS Program, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Ann Gavaghan, chief of staff, Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator.

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Posted May 17, 2010.