Who We Are
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the U.S. government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans. HHS provides essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) is part of the HHS Office of the Secretary. OGA promotes the health and well-being of Americans and of the world’s population by advancing HHS’s global strategies and partnerships and working with USG agencies in the coordination of global health policy.
OGA serves as the primary point within HHS for setting priorities for international engagements and developing and strengthening relationships with USG agencies, foreign ministries of health, multilateral partners at headquarters and in the field, and with civil society and the private sector. OGA provides policy recommendations and staff support to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and other senior HHS leadership in the areas of global health and social issues and coordinates international health and social matters across HHS, including major crosscutting global health initiatives. OGA’s USG partners include the National Security Staff, the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development, among others. HHS has a range of relationships with most of the world’s ministries of health. Multilateral partners include the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the UN Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the GAVI Alliance.
Roles, Responsibilities, and Functions
OGA (1) represents the Secretary and HHS in discussions of international matters with representatives of other USG departments and agencies, foreign governments, and multilateral organizations, as well as with the private sector; academia and the research community; and non-governmental organizations, including community- and faith-based organizations; (2) where needed provides staff support for the direct involvement of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretaries and the Surgeon General in international activities, including through drafting briefing papers and background materials. OGA often provides the same services to heads of HHS Operating Divisions; (3) staffs the Secretary in such international venues and events as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Assembly, the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization, the U.S.-México Border Health Commission, the World Economic Forum, and meetings with Ministers of Health and other senior foreign officials; (4) works with the Department of State in the development, negotiation, and execution of Memoranda of Agreements, both binding and non binding, with foreign governments and international organizations (5) chairs and provides staff support for the HHS Exchange Visitor Waiver Review Board, which has a statutory responsibility for reviewing requests for waivers of the two-year foreign-residence requirement for exchange visitors on J-1 visas in areas of interest to HHS, defined as biomedical and behavioral research and primary health care in underserved areas.
Ambassador Jimmy Kolker is the Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs. The policy work of the office is organized into the International Relations Division (IRD) and the Policy & Program Coordination Division. The IRD is organized regionally with Directors for Africa, the Americas, Europe and Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific and a Multilateral Affairs Director who works with international organizations. The Policy & Program Coordination Division includes the following offices, Policy, PEPFAR, Pandemics and Emerging Threats, and Agency Liaison.
Holly Wong is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs. In that role, she has primary responsibility for developing policy and strategy for the agency on global health issues. Previously she was Vice President for Public Policy at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a public-private product development partnership encompassing both scientific activities and policy and advocacy in the areas of innovation, R&D policy, access to medicines, and health financing.
Mitchell I. Wolfe, is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs. He was with CDC from 1998-2014, most recently as the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Thailand Office, as well as the Director of the CDC Global AIDS Program Thailand/Asia Regional Program, which provides technical assistance to several countries in the region and in Africa.
HHS Agencies and Offices with Global Health Activities
Nearly all HHS agencies have some global health engagement. Its international engagement has increased over the past two decades due to globalization and significant U.S. investments in global health. For a complete overview, see: