But we can't afford to rest on our laurels. Panelists at a Global Conference session (see video) reviewed the challenges facing the field today, including:
There's a pressing need to more effectively communicate the progress that's been made and the great returns on these investments to policymakers and the public. "This is not the time to let up," said Regina Rabinovitch of the Gates Foundation. "The world of global health has a history of failed five-year initiatives."
Ezekiel Emanuel of the NIH noted that global health funding has benefited from bipartisan support. The 2011 budget increased by more than $66 million - quite an achievement in an extremely difficult budget environment. He stressed the need to do a better job of showing Americans the improvements this money is buying, and how our investment in health helps improve economies in the developed world and our own security. He also emphasized the need to package proven interventions, scale them up and push them out to large numbers of people.
The health needs of developing countries are too great to be left entirely to philanthropy, said Ambassador Amina Ali of the African Union. Creative approaches to private-sector funding and investment are needed for the long term. She also stressed the need for donor coordination and a more integrated approach by NGOs.
Robert Sebbag of Sanofi-Aventis argued that developed countries have a strong self-interest in these issues; globalization and climate change are bringing some of the diseases of the developing world to the developed world.
Sebbag also noted that many pharmaceutical companies are realizing that significant growth in the future will come from emerging markets. A different economic approach is required, and that they are gaining valuable knowledge and experience by working in these countries.