The Imperative for a Health Systems Approach to Global Health Engagement

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Joint Force Quarterly




The military health system is a strategic asset. The Department of Defense (DOD) spends more than half a billion dollars per year on global health engagement (GHE). There is a shift from an exclusive focus on service delivery to information-gathering in order to support community engagement in public health policy development, thus engaging broader elements of the health system. This transition requires DOD GHE efforts to consider how they can contribute to stronger health systems and broader global health objectives. Military GHE is an essential part of a national strategy that recognizes the importance of strong health infrastructure to the stability and health of nations.1 In the context of competing budgetary concerns within DOD, it is even more essential that GHE not only meets the needs of partner nations but also produces maximum benefit to the broader policy objectives of the United States. Systems engagement is more aligned with U.S. projection of soft power as well as improving civic engagement between American health assets and civil society in partner countries.