HRC 35: Panel Discussion on Enhancing Capacity-Building in Public Health

U.S. Statement As Prepared
Human Rights Council 35th Session
Geneva,
June 8, 2017

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States works to ensure that Americans have adequate options for accessing healthcare.  Some barriers we have sought to address are physical distance from healthcare facilities and shortage of healthcare professionals in certain geographical areas.  We also value working together to build partner countries’ capacities to protect against global health threats.

The U.S. government has implemented tele-health programs to build capacity to deliver public health services to remote areas of the country.  This is especially helpful for populations like American Indians, Alaska Natives, and others who may live many miles from specialty services, like psychiatry or cardiology.  Tele-health has the potential to expand regional service delivery and can augment the efforts of in-person clinics.  Physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants, as well as other health professionals, such as nutritionists and health educators, can provide services in the local community, bringing healthcare to those who may otherwise not be able to access these services.

Similarly, our government utilizes the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program to encourage healthcare providers to provide services in underserved areas, including both urban and rural areas.  Health care professionals can earn up to $50,000 to pay back their student loans in exchange for committing to serve for two years at an approved site.  Health care providers can also choose to extend their service agreement for additional forgiveness of their student loans.

Internationally, our government partners with countries, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations to build and strengthen public health capacity through initiatives such as the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  GHSA, launched in February 2014, is a multi-sectoral effort aiming to accelerate implementation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations to make the world safe from infectious disease threats, whatever their source.  We emphasize the importance of transparency and measuring progress in public health capacity building work and highlight our support for the WHO’s Joint External Evaluation as a critical tool in supporting countries’ efforts to fully implement the IHR and achieve global health security.

Moreover, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports a data-driven, multi-sectoral approach to saving lives, preventing new HIV infections, and accelerating progress toward controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in high burden countries.  Through our PEPFAR investments, we aim to build a sustainable response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which can also be leveraged to address other health demands.

We look forward to sharing best practices and working together to further improve our countries’ capacities to provide public health services and protect our populations from global health threats.  Thank you.