Dr. Josh Ruxin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Founder of Rwanda Works.
Dr. Ruxin's work focuses on comprehensive approaches to fighting poverty with emphasis on scaling up national health programs and investing in Rwanda’s private sector. He is based in Rwanda where he directs several initiatives including Rwanda Works and the Millennium Village Project.
Topic: Investing in global health.
Josh Ruxin: Investments in global health aren’t just good for poor countries. Investments in global health are something that’s actually good for the world. When people scratch their heads and wonder, “We’re not spending perhaps enough money on health care here in America, what are we doing spending money on helping health care improve in a poor country like Rwanda?” The answer is that it’s an interconnected world, as we saw with swine flu and with SARS.
By improving surveillance and treatment, by improving what happens to emerging diseases and existing diseases in poor countries, we’re actually improving the overall health of the world. Moreover, we’re also improving productivity to levels where countries can finally climb out of poverty and not become countries that are dependent on our aid, but rather become countries that are improving their tax base, starting to pay for more of their public services, and ultimately become bigger consumers of American products.
An investment in health is a key step to ensuring that the world does not have the same problems that it’s had for hundreds of years, and finally getting over that incredible hump, and providing us with a world in which kids don’t die when they’re less than less than five years old of preventable and treatable diseases, when mothers don’t die in childbirth.
These are health issues which don’t just impact the communities in which they are occurring, it impacts the whole world. It makes everybody more susceptible to diseases, which we really don’t want to see at the levels of pandemic that we’ve seen just in the recent past.
Take a look at something like HIV/AIDS. It looks like it originated in Central Africa, perhaps as much as a hundred years ago, perhaps even longer ago, but we didn’t know about it until the early 1980s because that’s when it came up on our radar screen. If we’d been investing in health care systems more effectively in Central Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, we probably could have picked up on that emerging epidemic much earlier, and we could have done more to stave off that epidemic from reaching our shores.
Recorded on: June 3, 2009.