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32

MAY 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

USAIDFSOs Reflect

ON GLOBAL HEALTH

DIPLOMACY

Health-focused development programs have been a core activity at the

U.S. Agency for International Development since the agency’s establishment in 1961.

Maria B. (Bea) Spadacini is senior communications

adviser in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health. She has

worked in the field of international development and

humanitarian relief for two decades. From 2005 to 2012

she was based in Nairobi as the regional information officer for

CARE, and later worked for the European Commission Humanitar-

ian Aid and Civil Protection Unit. Her work has appeared in the

Christian Science Monitor

,

Sojourner Magazine

,

The Guardian

,

Corriere della Sera

,

The East African

and

Internazionale

.

O

ne vital measure of a country’s

strength is the health of its popu-

lation. After all, healthy people

perform better in school, are

able to work and can contrib-

ute to economic growth and

national stability. Thus, money

spent on health care offers a

good return on investment.

According to “Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation,” a study published in 2013 by The Lancet , every dolla

r

spent on health care results in $9 to $20 worth of economic and

social benefits.

FOCUS

ON GLOBAL HEALTH DIPLOMACY

Money spent on national health care objectives trickles down,

affecting both individuals and the communities in which they

live. When Americans are deployed to some of the poorest

countries in the world for the sole purpose of saving lives and

reducing suffering, long-lasting partnerships are forged through

trust, appreciation and mutual respect.

“Global health is an excellent vehicle for representing the

values of the U.S. and reaching a broad section of a country,

including those who would not normally interact with diplo-

mats,” says Jennifer Adams, acting assistant administrator for

global health at USAID, who has been a Foreign Service officer

for more than 20 years and has served in Brazil, Central Asia,

Senegal and China.

Addressing a Basic Human Need

In countries that receive USAID assistance, global health

programs address the most basic needs and concerns of indi-

vidual citizens. “Through global health, we are able to connect

on many issues that are important both to the population and

to the leadership of the country. Connecting on this level gives

us the opportunity to engage an entire system in one of the most

critical areas for any government,” explains Adams.

“Development programs that focus on improving health gar-

BY MAR I A B . SPADAC I N I