Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Why Global Health Matters to the U.S.

July 19, 2012

Too few people realize that the health of Americans and the health of people around the world are inextricably linked. An outbreak in a country thousands of miles away can threaten the health of Americans here at home, just as a breakthrough medical discovery outside U.S. borders can lead to better treatment for diseases affecting Americans.

In short, investing in global health isn't just about humanitarianism. Cooperation across borders is essential in an increasingly connected world where diseases move as freely as people and products. It is in America's interest to be a true global partner on health.

Stopping health threats overseas before they spread to our shores is not only the right thing to do, it’s an effective – and cost-effective - way to protect Americans.  The more we train health officials around the world to handle their own threats, for example, the healthier we all will be.

This has implications beyond U.S. health. Work done by organizations to improve global health also strengthens developing countries, builds a stronger global economy, and contributes to greater stability and national security.

This kind of essential global cooperation is at the heart of the International AIDS Conference, the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV, and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It's a chance to make a global assessment of where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learned, and collectively chart a course forward.

When the history of AIDS is written, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – created by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama - will be deemed a remarkable success, and we need to all work together to protect it. Today, 3.8 million people are receiving HIV treatment because of PEPFAR. Last year, 200,000 children were born without HIV because of PEPFAR. Through PEPFAR, the US government is emphasizing collaboration and integration of effort, leveraging the fight against AIDS to strengthen global health overall. 

This is a defining time for the global health community to act collectively and deliberately. We do this as we renew our commitment to improving health everywhere.  Please join CDC in reminding your friends and loved ones that our work in global health benefits everyone.

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