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The United States should use its scientific capabilities and wealth to strengthen global health systems and increase local capacities for food production and water stewardship, says Thomas R. Pickering, former US ambassador to the UN.

To alleviate world poverty and recover from the financial crisis, the world must recognise that economic growth and development are driven by issues of food, water and health, argues Pickering. And these issues are interconnected. Health, for example, is linked to nutrition and so, to agriculture, and both are affected by changes in water supplies.

The United States can help — and has helped in some areas such as HIV/AIDS. But, argues Pickering, US foreign aid has generally lagged in food, health and water, with funding for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) recently dropping from US$8 billion to US$6 billion per year.

A lack of coordination is also hindering foreign aid efforts, says Pickering. He calls for new senior administrators, experts in science and technology, to oversee coordination, which should be done through USAID. Pickering says an extra US$10 billion per year will be needed to help put the United States on the right path for international aid — a small sum in comparison to the trillion dollars injected into the economic recovery.

Link to full article in Science