NPR, May 2015
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The State of the Union (otherwise known as the “SOTU” to political wonks like myself) is a big deal inside the Beltway, where people either flock to bars like it’s Super Bowl Sunday or hold watch parties with bingo cards filled with policy buzzwords.
During last year’s State of the Union, President Obama stated that the United States would join our allies to eradicate extreme poverty and save the world’s children from preventable deaths. So, I, along with many who watched last night, was all ears to hear what would be said about global health as a national priority this year.
This year’s message about global health hit close to home for the work we do at PATH: innovation, research, and developing new tools to fight global bugs. I’m sure you can imagine my delight (I said I’m a wonk!) when President Obama mentioned “federally-funded research” and recognized that “there are entire industries based on vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria.” While this statement was modest compared to last year, the President’s recognition of these important US contributions to global health is significant. Without lifesaving research, we would be unable to reevaluate existing technologies, and search for new and innovative ways to deliver lifesaving solutions to people around the world.
In an age where policy issues are in constant competition for attention from our leaders, the global community should acknowledge that the US President made note of global research in a largely domestic speech. As I listened last night, I was encouraged by this recognition. I hope that the global health community saw this as a win as well, and believe that we should celebrate the fact that our messages are resonating with policymakers and galvanize us to do more to influence policymakers to make strong investments in global health, and particularly in innovation.
Photo credit: SXC