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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs