Topic: Tommy Thompson on Medical Diplomacy
Tommy Thompson: I coined the word medical diplomacy. And what it means, it means setting up the Global Fund and that’s fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, giving countries in Africa that are just decimated by HIV and malaria and tuberculosis a chance to fight those off and we run from just an idea to now a corporation that has something like $20 billion. We’ve already had it now close to $6 billion. We got 300 programs going on 135 countries. In every place we’ve gone and this worked so well that the countries have given America and the Global Fund high marks, that they become energized by it. The second thing is the PEPFAR Program that the President has started and this is setting up a program for 17 countries in which we administer medical aid to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and those countries are responding very, very positive. The Millennium Fund which is also set aside for new democracies to help get prepared. That’s the way to go, and when I suggested when I was running for president an idea that I believe is very good and should be adopted by this new administration and that is taking the two giant hospital ships, we got Mercy and Comfort. And there are thousand beds each and allow them to float, to sail around the world to new countries, developing countries, to allow young medical doctors out of medical school to compete for positions on those ship and serve their residencies on this huge medical ships. Can you imagine how wonderful this would be for young docs, men and women, to be able to be on this giant, modern, healthcare hospitals and go into a country like Darfur and be able to treat the sick, the wounded, the diseased, and the kind of treatments that this young people could learn how to do, and the education that they could give to other doctors and see and go into a part with the American flags furling in these giant ships that a young idealistic doctors getting off. It would be a political bonanza, a public relations bonanza for America. And that’s what I mean by medical diplomacy to really change the world and really get things, these things moving and really get them incorporated into our foreign policy. We still have [to have a] strong military, but I think this will go a long ways to really tearing at the fabric of the [mullahs] who were really promoting terrorism in the world. I think we would have a really good chance through good health, because every country I’ve visited, I would talk to the women, and all of them, the one common denominator that every single country I went to was the women in those countries whether they’ll be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, whatever the case may be was good healthcare for themselves and their family. So, why don’t we give it to them, why don’t we, it would be less expensive and much more permanent.
Recorded On: 10/30/08