Improving USAID with the Global Health Innovations Act

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Global Health Innovations Act is a bill currently moving through the Senate. It was originally sponsored by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), who said its purpose was “to encourage the development of health products that are affordable, culturally appropriate, and easy to use in low-resource health systems.” This bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 18, 2015 but was never passed by the Senate as Congress adjourned before it was considered.

The Global Health Innovations Act would require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) “to report annually to Congress on the development and use of global health innovations in USAID programs, projects, and activities.” The bill specifies that the first of these reports must be available to Congress within 180 days of the law’s enactment.

USAID must report on what kinds of healthcare improvements it is sponsoring, from drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to electronic and mobile health technologies and other innovations. It must report on how these new developments will help further USAID’s global health goals, including working toward an HIV/AIDS-free generation, ending maternal and child deaths, and protecting against infectious diseases.

Further, the law would have USAID outline its efforts to coordinate with other federal agencies like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A description of USAID’s efforts toward developing, advancing and introducing affordable and appropriate health innovations, and how those efforts contribute to covering gaps in necessary product development, will also be required.

The Global Health Innovations Act has the support of the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), an advocacy organization comprising more than 25 nonprofits. The GHTC works to promote public policies that encourage the development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to promote public health.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) summary of the bill says that for the four years from 2016 to 2020, the law would cost less than $500,000. This spending would depend on the availability of applicable funds, and would not affect direct spending or revenues.

These new guidelines for USAID will further improve transparency in the agency’s decision-making and review processes. It will also enable the agency, members of Congress, NGOs and advocates to identify and share best practices, gauge performance, and determine areas where gaps in research and development remain. You can email Congress about this bill.

Madeline Reding

Photo: Flickr

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About Author

Madeline Reding

Madeline Reding lives in St. Paul, MN. Her academic interests include biology and creative writing. She has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow, studying late-onset Tay-Sachs disease, and she dreams of writing for National Geographic.

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