The Global Health Innovation Act of 2017 was introduced to Congress last Tuesday, March 21 by Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ). The bill, titled H.R. 1660, instructs the “Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to report to Congress, annually for four years, on the development and use of global health innovations in USAID programs, projects, and activities.”
The bill is currently in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where it will be voted upon. If it passes the committee, it will go before the full House. An earlier version of the bill was previously introduced to Congress in 2015, also by Sires, and was passed by the House in December of that year. Unfortunately, the act — titled the Global Health Innovation Act of 2015 or H.R. 2241 — died in the Senate before it could reach The White House.
“Each year, millions of people in the developing world die of infectious diseases, malnutrition, and complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Sadly, many of these deaths are preventable and I believe we must do what we can to save these lives,” Congressman Sires told The Borgen Project.
“It’s worth noting that investing in global health isn’t just the right thing to do but a winning strategy for U.S. businesses. Eighty-nine cents of every dollar the U.S. government invests in global health research and development benefits U.S. based researchers and between 2007 and 2015 these investments created 200,000 new jobs and created $33 billion in economic growth. The critical research and development of global health technologies have facilitated the development of life-saving technologies saving countless lives across the globe.”
Accountability Surrounding the Bill
As the bill outlines, the report by the Administrator of USAID must be comprised of a number of elements, including the medical technologies used by the Agency and their impact on ending disease and death, as well as the Agency’s goals and progress in developing additional health products. Any cooperation with outside federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in accomplishing this objective must also be documented in the report.
Furthermore, the Administrator must detail the finances of USAID, which include independent relations, as well as donations and partnerships. Lastly, joint projects involving the Agency’s individual organizations, such as the Global Development Lab, the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, and the Bureau for Global Health must also be documented.
Although there have been numerous global health breakthroughs made possible by the help of USAID, such as the eradication of smallpox and the approximately 25 percent decline in deaths from malaria since 2000, there is more progress to be made. The Global Health Innovation Act of 2017, as Congressman Sires has confirmed, will continue such progress by successfully keeping USAID accountable through the documentation of its goals and progress in global health.
– Gigi DeLorenzo