303. Memorandum From the Assistant to the President’s Special Assistant for Health Issues (Fill) to the President’s Special Assistant for Health Issues (Bourne)1


  • A Thought re Implications of a New International Health Policy

If we established as a principle of foreign policy that we would not deny any needy nation international health assistance it would be a first in U.S. history. By establishing this moral principle we would not hesitate to award a license for lifesaving drugs to be purchased for Cuba, we would not equivocate on Iraq, we would send vaccine to Mozambique, etc.

Certainly we’ve pointed out that the field of International Health has multiple objectives, but have we established that medical diplomacy will not be used as a weapon to be offered or withdrawn depending on the political climate?

The problem as I see it is terminology. The definition of the word diplomacy is different in State from HEW’s and even AID’s. What HEW and AID are saying is let’s use medical diplomacy in a positive humanitarian sense and not in the same way we apply “diplomacy” to our arms sales decisions. We are grappling with this issue.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Staff Office Files, Special Assistant for Health Issues—Peter Bourne Files, Subject Files, Box 35, International Health, 11/2/77–11/30/77. No classification marking.