On Friday, October 17, 2008, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt spoke to a group of students at Georgetown University about global health diplomacy and the challenges facing the incoming president.
Secretary Leavitt’s recommendations to the incoming president were threefold: (1) Use health diplomacy to advance foreign policy goals; (2) broaden the definition of health diplomacy to include clean water and veterinary care; and (3) do a better job “branding” our health diplomacy efforts abroad.
Read more of Secretary Leavitt’s recommendations after the jump.
Secretary Leavitt’s first recommendation was that we focus on health diplomacy to advance particular foreign policy goals–for example, providing health care services to win the hearts and minds of citizens abroad. Secretary Leavitt explained that health is such an effective, “high octane” tool that calculating terrorists are using health diplomacy to gain substantial political power. He pointed to examples of Hezbollah in Lebanon and noted that the Taliban in Afghanistan has targeted health workers as a way of destabilizing and de-legitimizing Afghanistan’s government.
Secretary Leavitt’s second recommendation was that we broaden the definition of health diplomacy to include clean water and veterinary treatment. He noted that this expansion would benefit American citizens as well: (1) much of our produce is grown abroad, we would have a corresponding health benefit if we invested in clean water abroad, and (2) vaccination of animals can prevent the spread of pandemic illnesses that could adversely affect our national security interests.
Secretary Leavitt’s third recommendation was that we do a better job branding America’s health diplomacy abroad. He gave as an example that each malaria pill should come wrapped in a package that says “From the American People” so that people could more easily recognize the aid Americans provide abroad. He said this would go a long way towards winning the hearts and minds of those abroad and that current efforts were being stymied by inter-agency territorialism.