Obama's Victory: A Boost for Global Health?

As U.S. President-elect Barack Obama prepares for his four years in the White House, many are discussing how his term will impact health issues, globally and in the U.S., and if he will deliver on his campaign promises.

As part of their campaign, Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden said that more must be done to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as malaria and tuberculosis (TB). They pledged to provide at least $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against HIV/AIDS, hoping to at least double the number of HIV-positive people on treatment, and supported increasing U.S. contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, malaria, and TB. The ONE Blog lists other health- and poverty-related campaign promises.

Bloggers around the world are excited about what Obama's win could mean for health issues. Ray Hartley, blogging on The Times, South Africa, posts an excerpt of Obama's speech on World AIDS Day, 2006, after a visit to South Africa:

“We know how to save people’s lives. We know the medicine is out there and we know that wealthy countries can afford to do more. That’s why it was so frustrating for me to go to South Africa, and see the pain, and see the suffering …We should never forget that God granted us the power to reason so that we would do His work here on Earth – so that we would use science to cure disease, and heal the sick, and save lives. And one of the miracles to come out of the AIDS pandemic is that scientists have discovered medicine that can give people with HIV a new chance at life.”

yannick Santana, commenting on this excerpt says:

“If people have been wondering about ways in which President Obama change could positively impact the problem-solving process in Africa, this is an illustration.”

addis2000, blogging on Addismenged, provides five reasons why Obama's win is good for Ethiopians, including potentially helping Ethiopian-Americans access affordable healthcare. Within Ethiopia addis2000 adds:

“HIV/Aids and food insecurity form convergent miseries. To combat poverty, Ethiopian economists urge for immediate steps to curb the country’s exponential population growth. And yet, despite the Bush administration’s outstanding work to treat HIV/Aids victims in Africa through the PEPFAR programme, it worsened things by ordering USAID missions in six African countries to ensure that no U.S.-financed condoms, birth control pills, I.U.D.’s or other contraceptives are furnished to Marie Stopes International, which operates clinics in Ethiopia. Senator Obama supports family planning.”

Others also remain hopeful. A post on Med India says that Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., is optimistic about Obama's efforts to tackle global health issues, including ones in India. Understand Argentina also believes we have much to celebrate, and hopes this will be a new era for all Americans: North, Central and South. One of the reasons to celebrate, she adds, is because Obama will bring:

“More assistance in vocational training, micro-finance and community development; continue fighting AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis; reinforce global education.”

In the U.S., Obama's healthcare plan includes making healthcare affordable and accessible to all, lowering healthcare costs, and promoting public health. He also pledged to develop and begin implementing a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy during his first year of presidency.

RH Reality Check says that Obama's victory can be seen as a mandate for science and rationality, especially in healthcare policy. A post on Housing Works is also excited about these science-based policies, and hopes they will target people most in need.

“AIDS advocates were overwhelmingly thrilled by President-elect Barack Obama’s victory Tuesday, expressing hope that Obama’s election will bring meaningful changes to health care reform, science-based prevention, and a National AIDS strategy — all of which he promised during the campaign. And there is a real hope that the first black president — who has spoken out against health disparities in minority populations and homophobia in the black community — will frankly address the epidemic in the United States which overwhelmingly affects African-Americans, Latinos and gay men.”

Stiletto, blogging on Pourquoi Pas?, points out that though Obama has inherited huge problems from President George W. Bush, she hopes he will still deliver on his promises.

“For the American people, I hope he manages to find the 33 billion dollars to make America’s health system a thing of everyday like here in Europe, instead of being a joke like a third world country and having 45 million people with no health care cover. If that idiot Bush managed to find nearly 1000 billion dollars to go murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, surely, 33 billion dollars to keep the health of the citizens of USA is a lot more important and a lot cheaper. But this is your problem, Americans, and I wish you all the best. “

However, My African Diaspora cautions that we need to give Obama time to come through on all his promises:

“Temper expectations. Change won’t occur overnight. We’ve got so many pressing priorities: the economy, healthcare, the war, foreign policy and a slew of others. He won’t be able to wave a magic wand and make it all better. To expect him to would only demonstrate our own ignorance of the political process. Instead, reserve judgment and criticism and engage in the governance of your country. It is our right and our responsibility.”

Photo of Obama Posters by tonx on Flickr.


  • With the election of Barack Obama, a new day is surely dawning for the family of humanity. We have good reasons to be hopeful. The agonizing throes of the severe and colossal storm we have endured in the past several years have produced an unexpected outcome. The air is being cleansed and the dark clouds that had been gathering on the horizon are being blown away.

    Al Gore has reminded all of us that now is the time for intellectual honesty and moral courage as necessary attributes for responding ably to the human-driven global challenges which are looming ominously before humankind. As the horrendous, once in a century storm is being swept away by benevolent winds of change, perhaps we will see that honest and courageous activities of many people will begin to replace cascading, self-interested behavior of a few misguided, greedy people who have been willing to do whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially fashionable… come what may for our children.

    Perhaps sufficiently reality-oriented changes in policymaking and action planning, changes that protect biodiversity from mass extinction, prevent more wanton environmental degradation and preserve Earth’s body from relentless dissipation as well as the children from endangerment, are in the offing.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  • It is George Bush’s PEPFAR policy that is going to provide $50 billion. Obama and Biden have nothing to do with that at all…..Bush as not done much but at least give him credit for what might be his best action as President.

  • […] in the midst of the current economic crisis, will he come through? (these folks seem to think […]

  • Mark,
    I agree with your point that president GW Bush has been immensely successful at providing funds through PEPFAR for the fight against HIV/AIDS. However, as addis2000 pointed out, those funds were not made available to safe sex programs (condoms roll out etc). This directive was proven to be detrimental to a more effective reduction of HIV transmission in the past few years.

  • Becky

    Pres elect Obama can not and should not do it all. We are all have a responsiblity to take action in our hands. We all need to work 2x as hard to bring about change to this world.

  • Shwe Myanmar

    Congratulations Obama!
    We like Obama because of his name.
    Obama or O-Burma or Oh-Burma

    I hope he could change the world.

  • Jon

    I want nothing more than to express how I feel as an American. I want to change the world but I don’t hold a position in government ( I voted for Obama ) I am displeased with the actions of the Bush administration to say the least .. but what makes me so upset with recent actions is the Bail out that MY Gov’t approved recently. Why would any Government INCOURAGE a society to continue a method of borrowing money from banks when the current level of Debt to Income ratio per US Family is already at an average of $10,000 per person or higher? This is ridiculous! 700 Billion dollars of Tax payers money (tax payers who are already up to their necks in debt) are bailing out banks, who’s CEO’s and company employees at the top enjoy luxurious lifestyles.. this is Wrong! If 70% of the US economy is fueled by consumer spending, then why not give the majority of that money to the people who need it the most? The banks got greedy. The hard working Americans, some working two jobs to make ends meet, are the victims of this disastrous scheme to make the rich even richer – even during these times of financial hardship. When will our Government learn? Will it take another civil war? Maybe that’s what’s in store.

  • On the need for scientific education regarding the human overpopulation of Earth in these early years of Century XXI………..

    Dear Friends of the Global Voices community,

    I want to at least try to gain your quick help. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but yesterday the “AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population” submitted an idea for how we think the Obama Administration could change America. It’s called “Ideas for Change in America.”

    I’ve submitted an idea and wanted to see if you could vote for it. The title is: Accepting human limits and Earth’s limitations. You can read and vote for the idea by clicking on the following link:


    The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration. So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy.


    Sincerely yours,


    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
    established 2001

  • Anything and everything seems to be getting in the way of meaningfully discussing in an adequately reality-oriented manner the predicament that appears before humanity. This primarily and distinctly human-driven predicament is already visible, even now, on the far horizon.

    If you please, your assistance is requested.

    Seven days ago the “AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population” submitted an idea for how we think the Obama Administration could change America. It’s called “Ideas for Change in America.”

    I’ve submitted an idea and wanted to see if you could vote for AND COMMENT on it. The title is: “Accepting human limits and Earth’s limitations”. You can read, vote for and comment on the idea by clicking on the following link:

    http://www.change.org/ ideas/ view/ accepting_human_limits_and_earths_limitations

    Fourteen votes are been received so far. That is about 2 votes per day. If you agree, then vote. If you disagree, please comment. Of course, should you wish to vote AND COMMENT, please feel free to do so.

    The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration.

    Thanks for any assistance you choose to provide.

    Sincerely yours,


    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  • One of the world’s finest scientists, Dr. James E. Hansen says, “Tell Barack Obama the truth – the whole truth” about human-driven climate destabilization.

    Perhaps here and now, we will find that other great scientists, the likes of Jim Hansen and John Holdren, will speak out loudly, clearly and often to tell Barack Obama the truth – the whole truth about the apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome scientific research of human population dynamics as essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species; about absolute global human population numbers as a function of the world’s food supply; about human population numbers being determined by food availability; and about the daunting threats potentially posed to the family of humanity and life as we know it, even in these early years of Century XXI, resulting from the skyrocketing growth of human population numbers worldwide.

    For repeated references to the good science of Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D., and David Pimentel, Ph.D., please click on the links below. Comments from one and all are invited.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

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