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Americans Support U.S. Working to Improve Health in Developing Countries

Efforts Seen as Helping Americans as Well as People in Poor Nations

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite the economic downturn, a new poll shows a large majority of Americans support U.S. efforts to improve health in poor countries. This support is grounded in altruistic concern for the poor, but it also comes from a sense that in today's interconnected world a health crisis anywhere could impact Americans and that with globalization, health is an increasingly global issue.

The poll of 1,004 Americans, conducted from March 25 to April 6, finds that 64 percent want the U.S. government to make efforts to improve health for people in developing countries. The poll was conducted by in collaboration with, and with financial support from, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.

A key reason for making such efforts is altruism. Seventy-five percent say these programs "express Americans' key values - compassion, generosity and a desire to share knowledge."

However, an even larger number agrees such efforts serve the interests of Americans as well as others. An overwhelming 85 percent endorse the view that "these programs are important for the health of Americans as well as people abroad," due to diseases like SARS and avian flu.

The American public shows equally strong support for programs to fight diseases that mostly strike abroad as for programs to fight diseases that strike at home. Eighty percent favor "conducting basic research on diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis that primarily affect poor countries," while as many (79%) favor "supporting programs to reduce death and disability from chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes, which affect poor as well as rich countries."

"Most Americans see an overlap between problems of disease at home and problems of disease in poor countries," comments Clay Ramsay, research director of "Though there's generosity at work as well, they primarily see global health issues as in everyone's interest to resolve."

The poll was fielded by Knowledge Networks using its nationwide panel, which is randomly selected from the entire adult population and subsequently provided Internet access ( The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.2 percent. is a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

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SOURCE Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland
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