During the session on the “Social Determinants of Health” at the Global Peace Convention 2012, Dr. George Askew introduced Global Human Services (GHS), an initiative that he began as the first medical officer for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), “The U.S. government’s engagement in global human services is vital to protecting and promoting the health and well-being of Americans as well as protecting the health of our international colleagues,” said Dr. Askew.
Dr. Askew is not new to global health issues. Although he is a pediatrician in the United States, his residency focused on international and urban children pediatrics. His last year in medical school was spent in Kumasi, Ghana, “one of the most transformational years of my life.” Early in his career he worked in the U.S. Center for Disease Control, as a disease detective for the World Health Organization in Geneva, which also took him to Nepal to teach and conduct epidemonoligic work.
The idea for Global Human Services was proposed in 2011, when Dr. Askew realized that the global health strategy released by the Department of Health and Human Services neglected to include a human services component. For Dr. Askew, “health goals are not achievable without concrete human services in place.”
Human Services are programs and policies that support people’s well-being and health: where they are born, live, work, learn, play and worship. This includes the family, community, school, and places of worship.
GHS seeks to build a global network of health and human services through and multilateral engagement and exchange of knowledge and best-practices. It also seeks to open avenues for international mentorship.
The ACF frequently hosts international delegations. Recently, the first lady of Guatemala arranged for a delegation from Guatemala to come to study the programs of ACF. In 2008, Guatemala ranked second to China for children sent for adoption to the U.S. The first lady’s hope is to slow this trend by creating better human services that support families and youth in Guatemala.
Earlier in 2012, a delegation from Brazil came to learn about U.S. legislation against human trafficking, and ACF’s respective services for victims of human trafficking.
The ACF also participated in the planning of a global summit on foster care hosted by US AID. During the summit experts from around the world, including those from ACF, came together to review current evidence on effective systems.
Goal 8 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is Global Partnership for Development. GHS is one example that demonstrates how international cooperation can address shared global issues. Furthermore, it illustrates the strength of cooperation based on shared commitments such as to the family as the most basic and important unit of society, and the sacred value of every child and human being. Such kinds of global partnerships are key ingredients to achieving a world where families and children can flourish.