How we move forward

Lisa Cohen Moderating

We all are still processing the election results from last week.

For those of us in the global health space, it feels a bit like being outside on a pitch-black night without a flashlight. We aren’t sure what the path forward is—or even where it can be found.

In the absence of information, there is plenty of speculation—much of it dire.

Many are analyzing snippets of what President-elect Trump has hinted at in the past and are trying to anticipate what his administration’s direction might be. It’s the lack of information that is most unsettling, and it’s natural to try to anticipate what’s ahead so we can prepare ourselves. But the truth is, we simply don’t know what the ramifications will be, and we won’t for a while.

Washington State is actually in a unique position to illuminate a course forward. We are fortunate to have congressional champions on both sides of the aisle who share a commitment to many of our priorities. We need to arm them with evidence and context to help them support and, if necessary, defend global health efforts.

For example, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5) and Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-3), along with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), are working with our antimicrobial resistance coalition to highlight the need for funding and coordination between government agencies such as CDC and USDA. Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8) co-chairs the Congressional Global Health Caucus. He sponsors the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015, and he worked alongside Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-6) to garner the support of every member of the Washington delegation for replenishment of the Global Fund.

Congressmen Reichert and Dan Newhouse (R-4) signed on to pass the Global Food Security Act last July. Our entire delegation understands why addressing diseases at their source saves lives and money here at home. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-1) is ranking member on the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research subcommittee. Congressman Adam Smith (D-9) cosponsored our Zika briefing on Capitol Hill this summer and Congressman Denny Heck (D-10) serves on the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. Representative Rick Larsen (D-2) serves on the Impact Aid Coalition. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) serves on the Senate Committee on Finance and within that the Subcommittee on Health Care.

It is incumbent upon our global health community—our 168 global health organizations—to thoughtfully and compellingly educate and advocate for continued support on behalf of global health issues. We need to combine forces—universities and research institutions, NGOs, and faith-based organizations and companies—to develop some collective priorities to help our congressional delegation make a clear case for continued investment.

In the coming months, WGHA will convene leaders to develop these priorities and work with our congressional members to provide facts and context for the new members of this administration who may not be familiar with the tremendous return the US investment in global health provides. If there are specific priorities for your organization, please let us know.

We will make a stronger case if we work together.

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