April 19, 2017

Department of State and Alumni - Working to Improve the World’s Health

The Department of State’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy has developed a mailbox for U.S. government-sponsored exchange program alumni interested in the field of global health.  Write to us at StateHealthAlumni@state.gov  to join our listserv and share your thoughts on how we can better help alumni to network and share information on global health issues.  

by Jennifer Bullock
Director, Office of Global Health Diplomacy

In February, my colleague and I had the pleasure of meeting the thirty American exchange alumni who gathered in Atlanta for the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES). The theme of the seminar was “The New Frontiers of Global Health”.  Over the course of four days, alumni shared innovative and community-centered projects they had piloted as well as best practices and new findings in the field of public health.  Some of the areas of focus included: access to health care for underserved communities and the growing role of media and technology in public health.

I moderated a panel featuring the work of Fulbright U.S. Student Program and Gilman Scholarship alumnae, Alexandria Dyer and Angelica Rockquemore.  Alexandria and Angelica each presented their projects designed to improve community health through community gardens. Other alumni led interactive and thought-provoking Learning Labs based on their expertise in environmental health, gender and sexual health, and mental health and well-being.

As staff of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy (GHD), we were delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about the terrific work of our citizen diplomats. GHD organizes briefings for ambassadors and other US diplomats on the USG global health programs in their country of assignment. We also teach classes to State Department and other US government employees whose portfolios include global health issues.

The U.S. Department of State works to promote global health in a variety of ways. For example, as the leader of the U.S. government’s effort to combat HIV/AIDS, the State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy manages the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States’ flagship global health program.  Established in 2003, PEPFAR is supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for nearly 11.5 million people and has resulted in over 2 million babies born HIV free.   The Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OES) takes the lead at State on pandemic preparedness and the Global Health Security Agenda, which bolsters countries’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.

Many other State offices also have a role in supporting international cooperation on public health.  Nation- to-nation diplomacy plays an important role in promoting initiatives that contribute to improved global health, but so does citizen diplomacy.   International exchange alumni, like the ones we met at TIES, are proof of the effectiveness of citizen diplomacy in the field of global health.

We would love to hear from and support the many international exchange alumni who, like Alexandria and Angelica, are making a difference in their communities’ health.  To this end, we have launched an Alumni mailbox to hear from alumni interested in global health and will develop a listserv to share interesting information about and opportunities for alumni working this field. Also, if you are working on a project you would like to share with others, we would love to feature this on our Facebook page.  You can also follow us on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you!

Interested alumni should e-mail the StateHealthAlumni@state.gov address and include their name, U.S. government-sponsored exchange program information, how they are involved in global health, and what types of global health issues most interest them.

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