Bill Frist on Global Health

Sen. Bill Frist says global health is a way to
promote peace.

In an interview in The Tennessean today Sen. Bill Frist says he will work on global health in the coming days and he calls health the “currency of peace.” Frist said he will join Save the Children in a major initiative–yet to be defined–to prevent maternal-child mortality and he will join Bono’s One Campaign to get health issues into the presidential campaigns.

Frist said “health diplomacy” can be an important part of national security and contribute to a better understanding of the U.S. in world opinion.

This is an interesting public stance for Frist. While he has been quietly participating in voluntary medical missions to the developing world for many years, his past support for U.S. policies that deny funds to clinics that provide abortions and distribute condoms has created negative reactions to U.S. “health diplomacy.” His role in the Terri Schiavo case did not enhance his public image among any but the conservative base. This partisanship will certainly cause his critics to ask how he defines health diplomacy today. If it means continuing these policies and politicizing health issues, it will be more of the same. If not, it will be a welcome change.

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