288. Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance (Benson)1


  • Focus within Department of State to Deal with International Health Issues

As you are aware, there have recently been a number of initiatives, some coming from the White House, to develop an international health strategy for the US Government. In addition, there are a number of important areas which touch upon international health such as nutrition, population and scientific cooperation which the Department of State is heavily engaged in, and in which a number of Bureaus have an interest.

At present there appears to be no central focus within the Department of State to deal in a systematic and comprehensive way with international health issues: IO focuses primarily on the World Health Organization, OES views international health from the perspective of our separate international bilateral agreements, or of international environmental dangers, the individual regional bureaus give little attention to the health problems of their regions, except when there are local disasters or plagues. AID has an Office of Health within its Bureau for Technical Assistance but its focus is primarily on bilateral aid to developing countries.

To tie these different points of interest together, a focus within the Department of State to integrate international health issues and to coordinate the various efforts into some coherent strategy should be established. Given your responsibilities for OES it might be useful to have your office act as the senior level focus for international health matters. But in addition to this, OES could be designated as the lead bureau with [Page 956] a fulltime officer for day-to-day activities and coordination. One possibility may be to designate an officer in OES to perform this function, and also to act as liaison with other agencies of the government on this issue.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 7, TL 7/1–15/77. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Moose. At the top of the memorandum, Lake wrote: “LB—We might discuss this at a Small Group meeting. TL.” Additional handwritten notations on the memorandum read: “7/12/77 Christopher mtg.” and “Mtg with Christopher Tues. 7/12 4:00 p.m.” In a July 12 memorandum to Tarnoff and Lake, Brizill provided background information on the meeting between Bourne and Christopher to be held later that day. She also attached an organizational chart outlining the structure of the proposed Cabinet-level Task Force on International Health Policy. According to Brizill, Bourne planned to discuss “a number of international health initiatives he and his staff are considering. They include: (1) the current assessment of US international health policy being undertaken by the staff; (2) a proposal for joint USUSSR health cooperation in selected third world countries; (3) a medical cooperation program for Mozambique; and (4) White House interest in developing a world hunger initiative.” (Ibid.) No minutes of this meeting were found.