February 24, 2020
by Colin Poitras
In a recent visit to Yale, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States must reassert itself as a global leader if we are to address the threat of climate change and other global health challenges in a world steeped in political discord.
Speaking to a capacity crowd of hundreds in the Yale School of Medicine’s Harkness Auditorium, Kerry said it is critical that the United States shoulder its international leadership responsibilities and resume its role as an “indispensable nation” in order to help the world counter the enormous challenges that lie ahead.
“What happened to the country that went to the moon and invented the internet?” said Kerry during a discussion about foreign policy, politics, and global health sponsored by the Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH) and the schools of public health, medicine, nursing.
“If we get working, we are going to solve these problems. I’m absolutely convinced of it,” said Kerry, a 1966 graduate of Yale College and Yale’s Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs. “The question is not whether we will get to a low, no net carbon economy, the question is whether we will get there in time and that is up to all of us.”
Moderator Saad Omer, director of YIGH, noted that some U.S. taxpayers question why they should pay for health programs in other parts of the world. Or in other words, Omer said, “Why should a mother in Kentucky pay for vaccine programs in Kathmandu?”
“Because it will make her and her community safer,” Kerry said. He then described how the United States authorized $30 billion to create the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR in 2003, the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history.