SEATTLE — On January 18, 2018, the Global Health Innovation Act passed in the House of Representatives. The Global Health Innovation Act, titled H.R. 1660, explicitly directs the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) “to submit to Congress a report on the development and use of global health innovations in programs, projects, and activities of the Agency”.
The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in March 2017 by Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who have a history of advocating for legislation addressing global poverty.
In a press release published on January 19, 2018, Sires expressed confidence that the legislation will further address the very real problems of infectious disease, malnutrition and complications of pregnancy that cause the deaths of millions around the globe. Sires commented exclusively to The Borgen Project that “U.S. investments in global health research are central components of U.S. foreign policy to increase national security, strengthen U.S. relations around the world and reduce infectious diseases.”
The Global Health Innovation Act will provide the necessary oversight to gain a clearer picture of how USAID is currently expanding global health research and development. Research and development projects through USAID have a history of greatly reducing HIV and AIDS and preventing maternal and early childhood deaths in countries within the developing world. The bill itself ensures that the current USAID administrator reports directly to Congress to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being utilized in the most efficient and effective possible ways.
More specifically, the Global Health Innovation Act will require USAID to outline the following:
- Updates on current global health innovations such as drugs, diagnostics, devices, vaccines, mobile health technologies and their impact on behavior and the delivery of services.
- Steps and impacts that these innovations have taken against the global occurrence of HIV/AIDS, maternal and early childhood death and the spread of infectious diseases.
- Benchmarks, goals, evaluations and impact assessments for future health product development.
- Lists of reasons behind decision making to ensure that USAID is investing in the proper and most cost-effective health technology developments.
- How USAID collaborates with other federal agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- How USAID coordinates with its own agencies such as the Bureau for Global Health and the Global Health Development Lab.
The Congressional Budget Office explains that the USAID reporting would take place over the period of 2018-2022 and would cost taxpayers less than $500,000. The Congressional Budget Office also explained that enacting the Global Health Innovation Act would not increase net direct spending on budget deficits for any of the four years in which it will be implemented.
At this point, the Global Health Innovation Act needs to pass in the Senate and be signed by the president before it becomes law. H.R. 1660 passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan agreement at 423-3. The bill has been read to the Senate twice and is currently being referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
When asked about his thoughts on the bill’s passage, Rep. Sires told The Borgen Project, “I am pleased that the Global Health Innovation Act passed the House with such overwhelming and bipartisan support. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will move quickly to consider this timely and common sense legislation.” He also added, “Organizations like The Borgen Project are key to making sure people around the world know how they can fight global poverty and help those most in need.”
Overall, USAID and organizations that work alongside USAID fund programs that contribute to reducing the spread of disease, maternal and early childhood death, and malnutrition. The passage of the Global Health Innovation Act will ensure that USAID continues to make intentionally beneficial decisions in its work to reduce global poverty.
– Daniel Levy