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The U.S. and Global Health Issues - There is Work To Do!

Updated on November 1, 2014

The U.S. and Global Health Issues

The United States is clearly taking action against global health issue such as obesity, tobacco use, and HIV/AIDS. Within the country itself, the public can hardly use media or transportation without viewing a public service announcement or educational poster. Establishment of the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) shows engagement to organize collaborative and comprehensive approaches towards international involvement (The Kaiser Family Foundation, 2012). While interventions are present today, the problems still exist and much remains to be done to successfully intervene.


Obesity has continued to be a growing problem in the United States. The Chicago Community Trust (CTT) (2012) mentions that nationwide 72 million adults are obese. These figures have doubled since 1990 (Gostin, 2005). Obesity contributes to many other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer; these are some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. (CCT, 2012). This contributes to the total economic cost of obesity in the United States which approximates $270 billion per year (CCT, 2012).

The country must improve measures toward obesity prevention and reduction to impact the issue globally. Trust for America’s Health (2012) states that the nation must make an investment in obesity prevention in a way that matches the severity of the health and financial burden. Comprehensive obesity prevention programs function in a dose‐response relationship; the more money that is invested in the programs, the fewer people that will become sick or die from obesity. Surrounding environments contribute to unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, and therefore must change; we need to mobilize all members of society (Pomerance, 2012).

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Tobacco Use

The U.S. has been taking action against tobacco use and focusing efforts on the young to make the most future impact. The CDC (2012) mentions that over 80% of adult smokers begin before the age of 18 and every day 3800 adolescents smoke their first cigarette. Preventing these adolescents from ever starting tobacco use could further decrease this statistic and make an increased impact on global health.

Steps to reduce tobacco use in U.S. youth have been presented at the local, national, and state level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2012) mentions that mass-media campaigns, school-based programs, tobacco-free campuses, tobacco reduction advertising, and increased taxing and costs of tobacco products have all been combined to impact the initiative. Putting these policies into action at all levels is making a difference toward the tobacco epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012) describes over 45 years of evidence has shown that programs, increased pricing, policies, controlling access, reducing promotion, smoking bans, and implementing campaigns have reduced the toll tobacco takes on families, communities, and the globe.


HIV continues to plague Americans of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The CDC (2012) states “young MSM are the only risk group in which new infections are increasing, due in large part to increases among young, Black MSM” (p. 3). Issues such as discrimination and stigma also exist in the U.S. further burdening efforts to diminish the health problem.

The U.S. does have innovative plans in place to address this health problem, such as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The comprehensive plan addresses issue of funding, research, access to care, and provider education while increasing collaborative efforts to be a voice of one in driving further changes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). Challenges still exist for this health problem, but the U.S. has established effective planning and intervention methods.

Strengthening the U.S. Global Health Initiative

To strengthen the GHI, the funding gap must be addressed. Kates and Michaud (2012) mention that the funding for the GHI was planned before the global economic crisis. The financial gap could prove detrimental to the principles of the GHI. Kates and Michaud (2012) state “in light of the economic outlook over the next decade, an integrated approach may be more vital than ever, although looming cuts could perversely cause programmes and constituencies to retreat to defending their own vulnerable territory” (p. 1926). The third principle of the GHI involves sustainability through health systems strengthening (The Kaiser Family Foundation, 2012). Sustainability does not seen possible without closing the funding gap.

Collaboration and integration must also be fully adopted. Kates and Michaud (2012) suggest that the public and Congress be educated on the importance of integration. Congress members prefer to show constituents the number of organizations they support while the public favors specificity in showing support of initiatives (Kates & Michaud, 2012). Also, State Department leadership structures lack much of the authority that is needed to coordinate across agencies and programs (The Kaiser Family Foundation, 2012). Strategies must be implemented to fully engage all elements into the collaborative environment necessary for a strong GHI.

Does the U.S. Contribute to Some Health Problems?

It is true that the U.S. contributes to health problems in some ways. The prevalence of health problems in the U.S. is evident in the healthcare spending. According to the World Health Organization in 2000, the United States ranked 54th in terms of financial contributions toward health care; an issue that has shown no progress (as cited in Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, 2012). The United States spends more than any other developed country in the world (Holtz, 2008). This could be in part due to the U.S. being part of the problem instead of the solution in terms of tobacco and obesity.

Collaboration and allocation of resources, namely funding would benefit the country in the strive to be more engaged globally. In an effort to better use resources in the global realm, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) is restructuring. According to Shah, Goosby, Frieden, and Quam (n.d.), instead of using interagency coordination, a new collaborative leadership structure will champion priorities and policies in the diplomatic arena. This will help to keep strong effective agencies open and funded to benefit the U.S. and the globe.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Youth and tobacco use. Retrieved from

The Chicago Community Trust. (2012). Preventing and reducing obesity. Retrieved from

Gostin, L. O. (2005). Fast and supersized: Is the answer to diet by fiat? Hastings Center Report, 35(2), 11-12. doi:10.1353/hcr.2005.0021

Holtz, C. (2008). Global health care: Issues and policies. Sundbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

The Kaiser Family Foundation. (2012, March). U.S. global health policy: The U.S. global health initiative (GHI). Retrieved from

Kates, J., & Michaud, J. (2012, May 26). The U.S. global health initiative: Where does it stand? The Lancet, 379(9830), 1925-1926. Retrieved from

Mason, D. J., Leavitt, J. K., & Chaffee, M. W. (2012). Policy & politics in nursing and health care (6th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier Saunders.

Pomerance, R. (2012, August 16). Why we’re so fat: What’s behind the latest obesity rates. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from

Shah, R., Goosby, E., Frieden T., & Quam, L. (n.d.). Global health initiative’s next steps: A joint message. Retrieved from

Trust for America’s Health. (2012). F as in fat: How obesity threatens America’s future 2012. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). National HIV/AIDS strategy implementations progress report 2011. Retreived from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Tobacco use. Retrieved from


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