Washington-based global health initiatives have an enormous impact on health worldwide and economic impact in Washington State. A new report from the Washington Global Health Alliance combines new and existing data to measure and quantify this economic significance of global health to Washington State including employment figures and fiscal impacts. The findings are striking, revealing a thriving sector rich in collaboration, and uniquely positioned to address health equity around the world. The key points are outlined below, and you can also read the full report online.
Global health refers to the area of research and practice to improve health and achieve equity in health for all people worldwide.
Washington State has a diverse and collaborative global health sector.
By focusing on interdisciplinary approaches to complex problems, bringing outside investment, and attracting world-class talent to our region, this sector contributes to Washington’s innovation ecosystem. The global health ecosystem includes 168 global health organizations (nonprofits, biotech companies, research institutions, philanthropies, government agencies and other organizations). Nine of these 168 organizations are colleges and universities, which are an integral asset within the global health sector. The contributions by faculty, research staff and students keep Washington at the forefront of innovative scientific discovery.
Partnerships and collaboration are a part of Seattle’s business and nonprofit culture, and global health is no exception with 1,959 total partnerships. Washington’s global health organizations have 5,100 projects in 151 countries.
The high level of strategic collaborations from research to program delivery, makes organizations more effective, reduces redundancy and increases impact ultimately improving the lives of more people around the world. To further demonstrate its leadership, Washington is the first state to formally organize an alliance to further collaboration and increase connectivity among global health organizations.
Global health contributes to Washington State’s economy through investment, innovation, and employment.
Washington’s global health sector accounts for a growing portion of the state’s total economic activity. Global health organizations in Washington State directly accounted for $5.8 billion in output in 2013, comprised of grant funding, product and service revenues, private contributions and other sources. The interdisciplinary nature of the work makes it an important source of innovation for the state. Expertise addressing the needs of limited- or low-resource settings positions the global health community to constantly innovate in the name of reaching customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
In addition, global health organizations’ missions are a magnet for job seekers and an educated, permanent workforce with spending power for local goods and services. There were an estimated 12,620 direct global health jobs in Washington with average wages of $71,129 per worker in 2013.
This vibrant sector will continue to grow by proactively seeking new funding models and methods of collaboration.
Between 2009 and 2013 global health employment grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% representing an absolute gain of almost 2,000 jobs over five years. In Washington State, total employment increased at a CAGR of 1.1% during the same period, meaning that global health jobs grew at four times the rate of state employment.
Government funding has declined since 2012 with no immediate indication for increases in the future. Global health leaders say that new funding models are essential to continue making the kind of significant progress that we have seen in the last decade. The social returns in global health make it well-aligned with socially responsible, impact investing, though the community has yet to build appropriate investment vehicles.