S/GHD supports our Ambassadors by promoting the leadership role of our Chiefs of Mission. The QDDR asked Chiefs of Mission to exercise their leadership role within GHI through health diplomacy. S/GHD’s goal is to provide Ambassadors with the expertise, support, and tools to help them effectively work with partner country officials on global health issues affecting their people.
Model examples of health diplomacy by Chiefs of Mission include the following:
Ya Tsie: Teamwork bears more fruit than an individual effort
Botswana and the United States have a strong history of bilateral health cooperation and under the leadership of U.S. Ambassador Michelle D. Gavin, for the past two and a half years, global health issues have remained a priority for Embassy Gaborone.
In November 2013, Ambassador Gavin announced a powerful new collaboration among the United States, the Botswana Ministry of Health, and Harvard University – a $64 million project aimed at drastically reducing new HIV infections through a method called “combination prevention.” The four-year project, called Ya Tsie (derived from the Setswana proverb meaning “Teamwork bears more fruit than individual effort”) will determine whether coordinated and strengthened community-based HIV prevention methods prevent the spread of the virus more effectively than the standard methods that are offered individually today. As Ambassador Gavin said, “This may be the most important thing the United States will do in the next decade to help defeat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” Since the inception of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) ten years ago, the two countries have collaborated on projects such as this that have profoundly altered Botswana’s health landscape
The joint AFPMC-AFRIMS molecular laboratory within the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) was opened by Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. The laboratory's main focus is the diagnosis of influenza and the facility serves as a reference laboratory for testing for the nation-wide hospital system of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Ambassador Jeanine Jackson joined Malawi President Joyce Banda, Peace Corps Director-designate Carrie Hessler-Radelet, and Seed Global Health Chief Executive Officer Dr. Vanessa Kerry in launching the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP). GHSP is a collaborative program which sends trained U.S. health professionals to serve as adjunct faculty in medical, nursing and clinical officer training schools of partnering countries. Malawi is one of three African countries, along with Tanzania and Uganda, chosen to participate in the GHSP. A total of thirty new volunteers in this program were sworn into the Peace Corps at the White House in Washington, DC. Of these, five American physicians have been assigned to teach at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, four nurses at Kamuzu College of Nursing, and two nurses at Mzuzu University.
Ambassador Leslie Rowe of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy attended the African First Ladies summit to announce PEPFAR’s $3 million dollar commitment to Tanzania for the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, a public-private partnership designed to support the integration of cervical cancer prevention into country health systems. As part of this commitment, the program delivered 16 new cryotherapy machines to expand the screening and treatment of women with cervical cancer. These will be critical to the treatment of early cervical cancer in Tanzanian women and will dramatically increase the number of women who have access to cervical cancer screening and treatment services.
Ambassador Phillip Carter inaugurated the Ambulatory Pediatric Treatment Center in Yopougon, Cote d’Ivoire. Working in collaboration with Mairie de Paris, PEPFAR contributed $400,000 to renovations, equipment, and other materials.
In Zambia, the signing of a PEPFAR Partnership Framework and the Partnership Framework Implementation Plan provided an opportunity for $30 million in new U.S. Government funding. Rather than simply program the money, the Mission team worked with the Zambian Government to secure matching funding. Ambassador Mark Storella proposed to the President of Zambia that the U.S. provide this additional funding and the Zambian Government commit to double its own budget for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. The PEPFAR Coordinator and the health team also engaged Zambian Ministries to make recommendations regarding how to spend the additional funding. The result was greater innovation in programming new funding and, ultimately, a doubling of the Zambian ARV budget from 2011-2012 ($5 million to $10 million) and an additional increase in 2012-2013 (from $10 million to $25 million). This contributed to greater country ownership and sustainability.
U.S. Ambassador Wanda L. Nesbitt, Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Richard Kamwi, and Head of the Directorate of Special Programs Ella Shihepo discussed the challenge of transportation and outreach in the vast country of Namibia. The three were at an event to distribute vehicles to regional and district health teams and facilities.
Ambassador Scott DeLisi joined U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers, TASO Mulago, Theresa Primary School, and Kisubi Seminary School to celebrate World AIDS Day at the 2012 National Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). The weeklong Camp GLOW taught life skills and leadership skills to 150 Ugandan girls, aged 13 to 17. The Camp includes sessions on HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health, malaria prevention, conflict resolution, communication, decision making skills, and critical thinking skills. The campers also engage in sports, music and drama. Through these activities, Camp GLOW encourages self-confidence and challenges campers to think beyond traditional gender roles. U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide have been conducting Camp GLOW events since 1995 to empower young women to lead healthy lives and address the unique challenges in their communities. Since 2010, Peace Corps Uganda has held two national and four regional camps, providing long-term benefits to young women, to their communities, and to Uganda.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White is a member of the Task Force on the Reform of Governance and Management of the Haitian State University Hospital (HUEH) that is being rebuilt after it was destroyed in the Earthquake in 2010. On International Women's Day, Ambassador White joined the Haitian First Lady, the Haitian Minister of Health, and the French Charge d'Affaires to inaugurate a maternity ward that was renovated to help improve the quality of care at the hospital, which needs to stay open while it is being rebuilt. The HUEH reconstruction is an example of whole of U.S. Government collaboration, with USAID and CDC both managing PEPFAR funding for different aspects of the project.
U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec has actively promoted a wide range of health programs, including support for the public-private partnership Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves launched in 2010 to address the 4 million premature deaths that occur each year due to exposure to household air pollution. Under his leadership, U.S. Embassy Nairobi has helped bring local clean cookstove production to Kenya. BURN Manufacturing, with $3 million in financing from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and $1 million in financing from General Electric, expects to manufacture and sell 3.6 million clean cookstoves in the region over the next 10 years. Ambassador Godec’s leadership helped engage the Secretary’s Global Partnership Initiative (S/GPI) to commit $100,000 towards this effort, which was officially announced on January 31, 2013. Embassy Nairobi is reaching out to other cookstove businesses active in Kenya to discuss ways to support their work. The efforts of Ambassador Godec support the Alliance’s mission to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a viable commercial market for clean and efficient cookstoves and fuel.
In Iringa Region, Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt launched the “Back to Care” Campaign sponsored by the American people through USAID and TUNAJALI II. Since 2003, the American People through PEPFAR have provided two billion USD to combat HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. This support has been especially important in Iringa, where the HIV prevalence is estimated to be three times the national average and the highest in Tanzania.
In Malawi, Ambassador Bodde led the negotiation of the U.S. Government’s first-ever PEPFAR Partnership Framework on the eve of a national election in May 2009, only seven months after his appointment there. His drive meant that Malawi was the first country to complete a Partnership Framework, which helped the U.S. have a strategic impact in a country where it was not the biggest donor.
Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt and Tanzanian Minister of Health Dr. Hussein Mwinyi launched a Methadone Treatment Clinic in Dar es Salaam. This clinic is sponsored by the American people through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Cote d’Ivoire, post-election violence destabilized the country’s financial system; banks were closed and cash quickly became scarce, putting lifesaving programs in jeopardy. PEPFAR was having trouble getting funding that would enable the purchase of medicines for its partners on the ground. In a remarkable series of actions, Ambassador Phillip Carter worked with the local in-country PEPFAR team to identify essential life-saving activities, and then allowed the Embassy financial system to be used to distribute funds to key NGOs. As a result, in the midst of the crisis, these key organizations were able to continue critical HIV/AIDS-related care and treatment services with a focus on support for orphans and vulnerable children, the national blood safety program, and the distribution of life-saving ARV drugs.
In Kenya throughout the 1990's, the daily toll of disability and death due to HIV/AIDS increased unremittingly, leaving few Kenya families unaffected. However, this expanding tragedy was met by silence from leaders at all levels of Kenyan Government and society. When Ambassador Johnnie Carson arrived in 2000, he quickly recognized that this silence should no longer be tolerated. Since Nairobi was the press hub for all of East Africa, Ambassador Carson called all the editors of the major East African newspapers to a meeting and challenged them to have a story on HIV/AIDS each day in their papers. The major editors took up this challenge and from that point on there was regular reporting on the problem of HIV/AIDS, along with information on what could be done to prevent new infections and to treat those already infected. It soon became rare on any given day to pick up a newspaper or to listen to radio without a new story on HIV/AIDS. Thanks to Ambassador Carson's efforts, discussion of HIV/AIDS became commonplace throughout Kenya. Discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS gradually began to erode. A collaborative effort among leaders in communities, churches and government emerged, and with ongoing support from the U.S. Government and others the tide of the HIV/AID epidemic in Kenya turned in a much more positive direction which continues to this day.