NASEM report offers 4 focus areas to improve global health

Stethoscope and globe
The U.S. government and other stakeholders can look to four focus areas to take a more active role in global health, according to a new report. Getty/sunstock

The United States has spent decades at the “forefront of shaping the international policy agenda,” and a new report offers four areas where the government can use that power to better global health.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released its report Monday and in it, the academies argued that a systems-based approach is essential to creating partnerships with other nations to avoid the spread of disease and improve health.

“The United States must preserve and extend its legacy as a global leader, partner, and innovator in global health through forward-looking policies, country and international partnerships, and, most importantly, continued investment,” Jendayi Frazer, Ph.D., adjunct senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-chair of the committee penned the report, said in announcement.

“Doing so will not only lead to improved health and security for all U.S. citizens but also ensure the sustainable thriving of the global population.”

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Within the four major areas it identified, the report offers 14 recommendations for the U.S. government and other stakeholders to work on for better global health, including:

  1. Strive for improved global health security. The global responses to disease outbreaks like Ebola and Zika were reactionary, uncoordinated and ineffective, according to the report. So, the committee recommends that the Trump administration develop a body that has the authority to create a cost-effective and efficient plan for emergency response both globally and at home. This would include training and working alongside health officials in low- and middle-income countries to improve their response. The committee also recommends continued commitment to combat antibiotic resistant superbugs and funding for healthcare infrastructure globally.
  2. Continue to combat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Though much progress has been made in reducing the spread of these diseases, they still impact millions around the world. The report calls for continued push for HIV/AIDS care globally through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with other stakeholders on vaccine initiatives for disease like TB.
  3. Improve women’s and pediatric health. The vast majority of deaths from pregnancy, or of young children, are preventable, according to the report. The committee suggests additional funding through USAID aimed at reducing maternal and child mortality rates, and investment in intervention programs, like providing nutrition to children or providing mental health services to women with postpartum depression.
  4. Push for better cardiovascular health and cancer treatments. Historically, noncommunicable diseases have received less global health attention than infectious ones, but cancer and cardiovascular disease are costly to treat. The report suggests that U.S. health officials catalyze innovation in new treatments and push for more digital integration in healthcare around the world. More flexible funding options can create new partnerships in this area.