Headed In The Right Direction: The Lifesaving Impact Of U.S. Global Health Investments

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to U.S. Embassy staff at the Ambassador’s residence in Lilongwe, Malawi
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to U.S. Embassy staff at the Ambassador’s residence in Lilongwe, Malawi, on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, on the first visit to Malawi by any U.S. Secretary of State. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

During a visit to Uganda last week, Secretary Clinton made a stop at Reach Out Mbuya, an urban health center serving people living with HIV/AIDS. Speaking to patients, community health workers, and the Minister of Health, she called the center "a model not only for Uganda, but for all of Africa, indeed for the world." Her remarks came midway through a whirlwind nine-country, eleven-day tour of Africa.

The success of Reach Out Mbuya reflects the success of U.S. efforts to promote better global health through support for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Both programs have supported Reach Out Mbuya, and through hundreds of similar local programs all over the world, the Global Fund provides treatment to 3.6 million people who are HIV-positive.

The Global Fund is the world's largest health financier, investing the world's resources to build healthier, more productive communities. Global Fund-supported programs in 150 countries save 100,000 lives every month through treatment and prevention for the three diseases.

In my new role as President of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, it's my job to share the Global Fund's lifesaving successes with U.S. leaders and decision makers. Through my work, I get to hear powerful stories of Global Fund impact every day. But nothing compares to the power of seeing that impact first-hand.

During my years of working in international health and development, I have had the privilege of meeting workers who are back on the job after receiving lifesaving treatment to beat tuberculosis. Fathers can rest easy at night, knowing their children sleep under insecticide-treated nets to guard against malaria infection. Mothers with HIV light up as they explain that not only does treatment keep them healthy, but it also prevented transmission of the virus to their babies.

These individuals, and countless others, have seen their lives transformed by the generous contributions of the United States. Through strong support of the Global Fund and PEPFAR, the Administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- with bipartisan support from Congress -- have signaled that U.S. leadership recognizes the tremendous return on investment in global health. Secretary Clinton's recent trip to Africa, and her encouraging words at the Reach Out Mbuya center, reinforced this recognition and commitment.

What Secretary Clinton saw in Uganda is just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to programs that provide the 3.6 million people with HIV/AIDS treatment, the Global Fund alone has financed the treatment of 260 million cases of malaria and 9.3 million cases of tuberculosis. What's more, Global Fund-supported programs prevent millions of new infections of the three diseases each year.

There is still a long way to go. We've only just begun to see important progress and results -- we have so much more to do. We must build on our success to date and not lose ground. A few weeks ago, Secretary Clinton spoke before more than 20,000 delegates at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., saying the U.S. "will not back off, we will not back down" until we have fulfilled the promise of an AIDS-free generation. We are also on track to cut global tuberculosis mortality in half by 2015, and a growing number of countries are making progress toward ending malaria deaths.

Every day, the U.S. commitment to better health for everyone brings us a step closer to achieving these critical goals. With continued support, they are within reach.