The Global Health and the Future Role of the United States report was recently published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). It examined the changing landscape of global health to advise the U.S. government, as well as non-governmental organizations and the private sector, so as to improve their responsiveness, coordination and efficiency.
Why was it important that NASEM lead the effort to produce this report to inform the U.S. government and others about global health issues?
The United States has a tremendously important role in these efforts, contributing more than $10 billion annually. The U.S. government’s dedication over the years has resulted in many successful, ongoing initiatives, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative. The objective with this document was to examine the most pressing health needs globally and provide strategic direction for governmental investment over the next 20 years. It is important to remember that we cannot live in isolation, as the health and well-being of other countries both directly and indirectly affect the health, safety and economic security of Americans.
Are noncommunicable diseases a focus of this report?
This is one of four priority areas in the report. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, result in 40 million deaths globally each year, almost 75 percent of which are in low- and middle-income countries. The costs of managing these diseases are rising, with cardiovascular disease alone projected to cost the world $1 trillion annually for treatments and productivity losses by 2030. Many health systems in these countries are not adequately equipped to care for patients with NCDs, due to an historical focus on infectious diseases. Thus, our committee called for the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control to support improved mobilization and coordination of private partners at the country level to implement strategies targeting cardiovascular disease risk factors, early detection and treatment of hypertension and cervical cancer, and immunization against cancer-causing viruses, such as human papillomavirus and hepatitis B.
The cost of health care is under tremendous scrutiny. How does the report mitigate these concerns?
To maximize the return on investment, while achieving better health outcomes, the report makes three recommendations to the U.S. Government:
- Catalyze innovation through accelerated development of medical products and integrated digital health infrastructure
- Employ more flexible financing mechanisms to leverage new partners and funders in global health
- Maintain the status and influence of the U.S. as a world leader in global health while adhering to evidence-based science and economics, measurement and accountability.
What are the next steps toward implementation?
We presented the report to the U.S. Congress and our hope is that Congress and the presidential administration will incorporate our recommendations into health policy and programs going forward.
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