The Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative has not been fully fleshed out yet, but the effort got a new leader today. Amie Batson will head up USAID’s efforts on the GHI and serve as deputy assistant administrator for global health, according to an announcement from USAID chief Rajiv J. Shah.
The notice said Batson “will be responsible for coordination of USAID’s work in support of this important initiative,” referring to Obama’s six-year $63 billion proposal that envisions a more comprehensive approach to global health and promises a more intensive focus on women and children.
Global TB and HIV advocates seem to have a positive impression of Batson, who has worked on global health issues for two decades and has a strong background in vaccines and innovative financing mechanisms for global health. She has worked on these issues at the WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank.
“Although her career has focused primarily on vaccines and financing issues, Dr. Batson has a wealth of expertise that she will be able to draw on in her new position,” said Peg Willingham, senior director for external affairs at Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation. “She is a technocrat in the best sense of the word – someone whose academic and professional background have prepared her well for this new role at USAID.”
Willingham noted that Batson has worked on a broad array of health issues over the years, including child survival as part of the Children’s Vaccine Initiative, and HIV/AIDS, including serving for several years on the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s Policy Advisory Committee. (More on Batson’s resume details below.)
Batson will be getting right into the thick of things, as she is scheduled to meet with global health advocates and other USG officials on Friday about the Global Health Initiative consultative document, released on Feb. 1. Read more about that here.
Batson’s appointment comes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress today and tomorrow about the FY 2011 budget and US foreign policy priorities. Clinton is set to speak before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today and the respective House panel on Thursday.
It’s unclear how much time she’ll spend talking about global health vs. Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hot-button international issues on her plate. But we’re hoping for a few more details on the GHI. Stay tuned.
Here’s the rest of Batson’s resume, from to the USAID notice of her appointment.
“Ms. Batson joins USAID after a 20-year career in global health that has included positions in the WHO, UNICEF, and most recently, the World Bank. As one of the original drivers behind the creation of the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI Alliance) she led the World Bank’s efforts in vaccine financing, including the establishment of new financing mechanisms like the Advance Market Commitment and the use of donor financing to “buy-down” loans from the International Development Assistance program. Together these efforts have provided billions of dollars of new funding for global health and helped to vaccinate millions of children against polio, pneumonia, diarrhea, and other vaccine preventable causes of death. In 2002, in recognition of her work on financial innovations for health, she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation from World Bank President James Wolfensohn.
“More recently her leadership efforts have been directed toward improving health systems through the use of results-based financing mechanisms.
“Prior to joining the World Bank, Ms. Batson was a joint WHO/UNICEF staff member in the WHO Global Program for Vaccines, where she led efforts to develop public-private partnerships for vaccines and to further investment in vaccine manufacturing and development. She has published nearly two dozen articles, mostly in the domain of the applied economics of vaccine production and commercialization.”