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August 16, 2023

GHTC responded to Senator Ben Cardin's (D-MD) request for information (RFI) on strengthening global health systems through local partnerships post-pandemic by emphasizing the need to invest in innovative product development and the broader innovation ecosystem, as well as strengthening research and manufacturing capacities, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

To the attention of:

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

COVID-19 cast the importance of a strong, unified, and fully financed global health architecture into sharp relief. However, while the pandemic dominated headlines, progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and other health priorities has stalled, underscoring the need to reaffirm the importance of investments in ongoing epidemics, including in tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, neglected tropical diseases, and other neglected infectious diseases. To regain our global footing on these diseases, known and unknown, investments by the government in Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) must include catalyzing product development for new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, vector control products, and other health tools, as well as strengthening research and manufacturing capacities and ensuring more direct investment in existing innovation ecosystems, especially in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs).

According to the same Lancet Commission on Investing in Health paper cited in the RFI, even if our current health technologies were scaled widely, the world could still not achieve our Sustainable Development Goals for health. True HSS must address future supply chain issues and dependence on a handful of stakeholders for vital health products, and global and regional leaders must make a concerted effort to strengthen local production and technical capacities to enhance regional manufacturing capabilities. Investments should be made in regional hubs that can serve multiple countries, especially during major outbreaks, but also for ongoing health threats from poverty-related and neglected diseases.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is a leader in global health and development, making them uniquely poised to not only conduct HSS but also to invest in the research and development of technologies for global health on a disease-agnostic level. Congress should seek to invest in USAID’s mandate to both bolster the human and infrastructural resources of health systems and vest those systems with the capacity to innovate and build next-generation technologies that are fit for use in LMICs.


Alex Long