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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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