Synchronizing Interagency Health Diplomats in Support of National Security Interests

  • Colonel David E. Ristedt

Global Health Diplomacy is an increasingly recognized soft power element in support of the United States National Security Strategy. Multiple United States agencies employ personnel globally to positively affect host nation population health indicators, combat active or prevent emerging disease threats, build partner capacity and increase interoperability with the international community. Interagency coordination is a key element to synchronize medical efforts in support of global health activities. Several identified governance challenges lead to inefficient and desynchronized efforts. Health diplomats lack standardized training and education despite many of the same requirements. Interagency personnel distribution leaves potential gaps in global surveillance and limits effective support to Ambassadors. If the United States is to synchronize health diplomacy across the interagency, formalizing a governance structure with clearly articulated authorities as well as evaluating the attributes and distribution of health diplomats is strategically vital in improving global health effects in support of national security objectives.