Global Health

Global Health

Investment in global health programming worldwide saves lives, improves medical care around the world and is a core component to ending poverty and meeting the basic needs of the poorest of the poor. Global health programming address diseases such as polio, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases, while also preventing malnutrition, decreasing maternal mortality, improving infant health, developing new health technologies and vaccines, and assisting women with the timing and spacing of pregnancies. However, despite considerable improvements in global health over the past half-century, one billion people lack access to basic health care services and millions die each year from diseases, malnutrition, and other health-related causes.

Our Work

InterAction’s Global Health Working Group brings together a wide range of practitioners and policy advocates working on global health issues. Together they share programmatic approaches, identify gaps in health delivery and policy, and develop recommendations for addressing health needs and improving services to poor and at-risk populations. The working group emphasizes the importance of health integration, identifies best practices, and advocates for appropriate policies within the global health and donor communities.

Ebola Response and Recovery:

In 2014 we witnessed the impacts of both fear and immense courage in overcoming the largest and longest Ebola outbreak in history. With over 10,000 deaths in West Africa, the outbreak killed more people than all other Ebola outbreaks combined. As a convener and united voice, InterAction formed an Ebola working group and Ebola communications sub-group to identify, address, and educate the public and policy makers about challenges, opportunities, and the continued needs of combatting Ebola. Over 30 InterAction member organizations courageously mobilized to respond to the crisis, and InterAction worked hard to capture each member’s efforts on its website. InterAction facilitated information sharing opportunities with experts at the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the United Nations, and private foundations. And InterAction was the main interface for the NGO community to the U.S. Government and the Global Ebola Response Coalition (GERC), the coordination body established by the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response. Additionally, as public fear of Ebola spiked in the U.S., InterAction staff and members worked hard to educate the public and policy makers at the state and federal level about the potential harm visa bans, travel bans, and elongated quarantines would have on the Ebola response.

InterAction also organized community advocacy around increased U.S. funding to help combat Ebola – which Congress eventually granted in December of 2014. Throughout the Ebola crisis InterAction convened members and leveraged their expertise to inform the public and key policy makers on effective methods by which to combat Ebola at its source. Going forward, InterAction and its members will continue to engage the public and policy makers with lessons learned and with recommendations on how the U.S. can assist West Africa in recovering from Ebola.

Through continued engagement with the U.S. government, InterAction and its members advocate for funding of and commitment to global health programs that save millions of lives each year.

Focus Areas:

  • Maternal and Child Health: Every year, approximately 287,000 women, primarily in developing countries, die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. 6.6 million children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes and from complications during labor and delivery. Global health programming strives to end preventable child and maternal deaths through lifesaving interventions like vaccines and nutritional supplements.

  • Nutrition: Each year, malnutrition accounts for almost half of all deaths of children under five (over 3 million), roughly 40% of maternal deaths (over 100,000), and11% of the global disease burden. Additionally, 165 million children are stunted due to chronic malnutrition and suffer lifelong, irreversible physical and cognitive damage as a result. Malnutrition stymies economic development and keeps families and societies locked in a cycle of hunger and poverty. Investment in nutrition would save millions of lives and ensure healthier, more prosperous futures for countries around the world.

  • Vulnerable Children: Global health programming can: help infants and young children survive and thrive by targeting early child cognitive development, establish foster care and other permanent family care solutions for the 153 million orphans worldwide (including 17.8 million who have lost both parents), protect the 115 million children who are engaged in hazardous work and the 223 million children who have experienced sexual violence.

  • Malaria: In 2012, there were 207 million cases of malaria that resulted in the deaths of 627,000 people – 77% of whom were children under five. Malaria’s economic and social impacts, including absenteeism, health care and treatment, and premature death, cost an estimated $12 billion per year. Malaria prevention and treatment programs can save millions of lives while strengthening emerging economics and health systems.

  • Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious, airborne disease that kills approximately 1.3 million people and infects approximately 8.6 million people every year.  TB is the single biggest killer of people living with HIV and the third leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. The economic consequences of TB include a 4-7% decrease in annual GDP and almost 30% of yearling household earnings.

  • Neglected Tropical Diseases: Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 infections diseases and conditions that afflict more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest people and result in the deaths of 400,000 people annually. Over 800 million children are impacted by NTDs, leading to blindness, deformities and malnutrition. Programming is needed to provide accessible treatment and research and development for new tools – including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines – for all NTDs.

  • HIV/AIDS: Since the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS has killed approximately 36 million individuals worldwide, while another 35 million live with HIV/AIDS today. Global health programming efforts have developed tools, technology, treatment, testing procedures, and education initiatives that are steadily working towards the end this debilitating disease.

  • Family Planning and Reproductive Health: In 2012, the use of modern contraceptives (including the provision of information, counseling and services) in the developing world prevented an estimated 218 million unintended pregnancies, 55 million unplanned births, 138 million abortions, 118,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths. Family planning provides couples with the information and resources they need for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. These programs are vital to improving the health and well-being of mothers and their children.

InterAction members are also active implementers of health programs around the world. The map below (part of InterAction's NGO Aid Map initiative) provides an interactive snapshot of our members' work in this sector.

If you are involved in global health work, you can sign up for the Global Health working group by first registering on this website and then requesting membership to the working group. For more information, please contact Erin Rein.


Global Health: Investing in Our Future: This briefing book represents the international NGO perspective on a wide range of global health challenges. The book's 15 briefs provide a quick summary of various global health issues, as well as a closer look at the impact of U.S. investments within the sector.

Integrating Health in Relief and Development: Principles

Transitioning from Relief to Development in the Health Sector: Tools, guides and other resources for use in designing and implementing health programs in transition periods.

Global Health: Impact through Integration: Case Studies

Country Ownership: Moving from Rhetoric to Action – This policy paper defines the concept of country ownership, outlines its core elements, and provides actionable recommendations for the U.S. government. Country ownership requires the participation of both citizens and government in development efforts. Empowering citizens and states to take responsibility for their own development by using local systems will allow for better targeting of resources, strengthened accountability among various stakeholders and, ultimately, increased sustainability and success.