The United States government has led the world as one of the largest supporters of global health efforts, with foreign assistance investments in over 80 countries. Health Diplomacy is vital in maintaining strong relationships with the international community and is crucial in advancing foreign policy.

But what is health diplomacy exactly? Although defined in many different ways, in essence, it is a multi-level process that involves international stakeholders and local organizations that are aimed at improving healthcare delivery by exporting medical equipment, expertise and human resources to those who need it most.

As an interconnected global community, health diplomacy is demonstrated to help out the allies of the United States in creating sustainable health programs to meet the needs of the people. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy uses diplomatic outreach to promote shared responsibility for the well-being of the world’s citizens.

In cases where diplomatic efforts may be strained or negotiations are hard to come by, health diplomacy can open doors to foster new dialogue and create more partnerships on a non-political level.

On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services brings in much needed technical expertise and scientific research to the interrelated fields of public health and international development. By exchanging scientific and evidence-based knowledge with leaders and health educators abroad, the United States continues to maximize its objectives in security, development and health.

One of the greatest examples of health diplomacy is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Started in 2002, this international financing institution spurred a multitude of partnerships between foreign governments, civil societies and non-profit organizations to fight these three pandemics. From 2002 to 2016, 56 donor governments have pledged an astounding $42 million to the fund, with the U.S. being the largest donor. These donations will allow local experts to tackle the infectious disease issue whether it is by distributing mosquito nets to protect people from malaria, training health personnel or providing medical equipment for the diagnosis of tuberculosis.

– Leeda Jewayni

Sources: Global Health Diplomacy Net, Global Health, U.S. Department of State, The Global Fund
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