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)

Multimedia

Audio
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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid