HHS Secretary says US plays key role in global health

January / February 2015 | Volume 14, Issue 1

HHS secretary Burwell walks in Clinical Center hallway with NIH Dir Collins NCI Dir Varmus and NIH Deputy Dir Tabak
Photo courtesy of NIH

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell visited NIH
recently for her first town hall meeting with staff. She was greeted
by (from right) NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, National Cancer
Institute Director Dr. Harold Varmus and NIH Deputy Director
Dr. Lawrence Tabak.

The U.S. has a "very strong" role to play in global health, not least in the battle to control Ebola and other threats to the domestic as well as worldwide populations, according to Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the NIH.

"The role of HHS in the global health space is going to be front and center," Burwell said during a recent visit to NIH to tour the main campus and meet staff. She joined HHS last year from the U.S. budget office and soon became steeped in discussions with top world health officials on how to stem the rampant Ebola epidemic in West Africa and prevent similar outbreaks in the future.

In earlier global health experience, Burwell spent a decade at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was founding president of its Global Development Program, which awarded $1.5 billion annually. One of her focus areas was vaccine needs, including for diseases such as Ebola.

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