Every U.S. President in recent decades has had to respond to at least one pandemic disease. Political leadership has proven decisive. In the coming years, U.S. foreign policy will face at least three inter-related issues: today’s major pandemics of AIDS, TB, and Malaria; future outbreaks with the potential to become pandemics; and rising risk from infectious diseases associated with climate change. A coordinated U.S. effort, across agencies and engaged with national and multilateral partners, could save lives and address significant foreign policy interests.
The Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been exceptionally dangerous, occurring within active armed conflict and geopolitical volatility, including a million displaced persons. We convened experts at Georgetown University who deliberated on a set of priority recommendations. The United States and international community should launch high-level political mobilization, with diplomatic, human, and economic resources. It is critical to recognize that future health crises will occur in fragile, insecure settings. To prepare, the international community needs long-term planning and enhanced capacities to improve the safety and effectiveness of epidemic response operations.
Research shows that international aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria goes beyond battling disease and is linked to better governance in low- and middle-income countries. The O’Neill Institute’s research links Global Fund financing to improved control of corruption, rule of law, and overall development. The study notes how countries rely on strong systems of governance to sustainably combat disease, and that the Global Fund has “innovative structures, unique to the architecture of aid, explicitly designed to improve governance and negate the distortions of aid financing”.
Heads of State will gather in September at the United Nations General Assembly for the first-ever high-level meeting on tuberculosis (TB). The theme of the meeting is “United to end tuberculosis; an urgent global response to a global epidemic”. The O’Neill Institute, alongside the Stop TB Partnership, will be releasing three reports focused on identifying practical opportunities to address pressing issues of law and human rights in the contact of TB.
The O’Neill Institute partnered with the Stellenbosch University Centre for HIV Management and the Treatment Action Campaign to explore how U.S. global AIDS funding is reaching the front-lines of the AIDS response in South Africa and how changes in policy at the global and national level are translating into facility-level interventions. With support from amfAR, we created a unique partnership between researchers and community leaders living with HIV to conduct interviews at over fifty randomly-selected public sector facilities in the highest HIV prevalence districts in the country. We then presented these results—first at a public town hall attended by People Living with HIV and the head of PEPFAR, Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, and then at the Country Operational Planning Process—helping provide insights that triggered significant policy change.
The O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law at Georgetown University co-hosted the fifth convening of the Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest the week of September 24, 2018. The Global Congress is the main convening of a global network of over 800 researchers, activists, and practitioners who work on the intersection of intellectual property and promotion of the public interest. The Congress is co-hosted by The American University Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) with the core goal to promote evidence-based policy-making by fostering partnerships between academics and policy advocates from around the world. The O’Neill Institute chaired the Access to Medicines Track.
This Lancet Commission is hosted at the O’Neill Institute to examine the vital role of law in responding to major global health challenges. It seeks to define and systematically describe the current landscape of law that affects global health and safety. The Commission will make an innovative case for the power of law to improve health while revealing the opportunities and challenges under the status quo.
With the U.S. administration considering reorganization of foreign aid and the State Department, the O’Neill Institute convened a working group of leading experts in global health policy to consider the future of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The resulting report examines the history of PEPFAR and analyzes how governance could impact the efficacy of the program, including the idea of moving the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and changing its reporting structures, which the working group recommended against.
National Health Equity Strategies could offer a new approach to reducing health inequities—an approach that would be comprehensive, aim to empower the people who experience these inequities, and that could help establish a sustained national focus on health equity. The O’Neill Institute is working with partners around the world to explore and pioneer this approach.