News / Africa

PEPFAR Evolves and Expands

Amb. Eric Goosby (Health Affairs)Amb. Eric Goosby (Health Affairs)
x
Amb. Eric Goosby (Health Affairs)
Amb. Eric Goosby (Health Affairs)
Joe DeCapua
PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is credited with saving millions of lives in developing countries. The program, which started under President Bush, continues under President Obama. However, despite the success, supporters say PEPFAR faces many challenges due to a poor economy and partisan politics.



U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, the man in charge of PEPFAR, said many people are responsible for the program’s success.

“The healthcare providers, faith-based organizations and community groups, the businesses, the people living with HIV – they are the hands and feet who have led the transformation over the past decade. It’s thanks to them that the PEPFAR program was able to make incredible progress in both a programmatic impact, but just as importantly, in returning and expanding hope to the communities in which we work,” he said.

Dr. Goosby said PEPFAR has taught the world much about tackling a global epidemic. He says less than a decade ago the “hopelessness was overwhelming.”

“Despite the complexities of AIDS as a disease to diagnose and to treat, the United States took it on with a targeted approach on a large-scale and with accountability for results. Yet what even many experts don’t appreciate is the broader transformational impact of this work on the health sector,” he said.

He said improving hospitals, clinics and labs, as well as training healthcare workers and creating better supply chains have also strengthened health care systems in developing countries.

“That helps us understand the improvements we’ve seen in non-HIV indicators such as maternal, child and TB related mortality, use of ante-natal care and safe blood supply. I believe we just scratched the surface of what can be achieved on these platforms,” he said.

Ambassador Goosby said PEPFAR will continue to push for “country ownership” of HIV/AIDS programs. This gives local health officials greater authority in tailoring programs to their needs. It does not mean an end to PEPFAR funding at this time.

“These frameworks have also given us a forum in which to highlight policy or other issues that may be holding countries back, whether it’s failure to focus on key populations at highest risk, lack of inclusion of women, or not collaborating with the faith sector that does so much of the work. Of course another recurring barrier is an adequate investment in health from national budgets,” he said.

He added that “shared responsibility” is what will allow PEPFAR programs to expand.

PEPFAR works closely with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Goosby praises the fund’s efforts and reforms.

He said that an AIDS-free generation is not only possible, it’s something that must be achieved.

One of the major supporters of PEPFAR is Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott – a medical doctor and co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. He is a former regional medical officer for the State Department in the then-Zaire.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (Health Affairs)Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (Health Affairs)
x
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (Health Affairs)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (Health Affairs)


“I arrived there in ’87 right in the middle of the beginning of the epidemic when Mama Yemo Hospital in Kinshasa had hundreds of people lying on the floor just dying,” he said.

He said in the early days of the epidemic, few members of congress were interested. He disagreed with former President Bush on many political issues, but says Mr. Bush “got it right” when he launched PEPFAR in 2003.

McDermott warns that today’s intensely partisan politics – coupled with a poor economy - have resulted in only short-term support for PEPFAR – funds just for fiscal year 2013.

“It isn’t very reassuring. I get calls from my friends in South Africa and other countries saying, what’s going to happen? Are we going to have a program next year? Where’s it going to go? So the anxiety is flowing out all over the world as the Congress dawdles here on the Hill,” he said.

He warned PEPFAR is not immune from budget sequestration -- automatic, across-the-board cuts that take effect if the president and congress fail to agree on deficit reduction. McDermott said such cuts could result in a lot more AIDS-related deaths and many more orphans. 

Over the years, PEPFAR has spent tens of billions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More