Editorials and Commentary
Meeting the Health Crisis Head-On
April 15, 2002
"The call of Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, for $500 million to be spent protecting young children and their mothers is right on the mark: a down payment on a world that respects the dignity of every life, regardless of income or the accidents of geography.
"...For a few dollars each, drugs (Nevirapine and others) could reduce the spread of the AIDS virus from mother to child. ...Yet, even without AIDS, 10 million young children will die needlessly in poor countries this year (more than 10 times the number infected with HIV), almost all from diseases easily prevented or readily treated. ...None of these actions require dramatic new discoveries or enormous new investments. Yet, for years, U.S. support for international assistance directed at protecting the lives of young children and their mothers has languished, even as our response to AIDS has quickened. With his bold call, Mr. Helms has now changed the terms of the debate, rightfully framing the issue as one of basic morality rather than simply self-interest.
"AIDS does not do its work in isolation. ...As practitioners and public health professionals who have worked on these issues around the world for decades, we recognize that the only way to fight a disease as pervasive and insidious as AIDS is to encircle it, hitting in from multiple directions. Our focus must remain on the human beings at risk, not the disease.
"...To vigorously fight mother-to-child transmission of HIV, we call on Congress and the administration to make the health care of children and mothers in the world's poorest countries a US priority. ...To define our desired outcome as healthy children and intact families... will require a focus on the delivery of a package of essential preventive services and care that will multiply the impact of this proposal many times over. With one bold stroke, this proposed $500 million would double the funding the US provides each year to programs directed toward bettering the health of the world's children and mothers. A flowering of human potential: we commend Mr. Helms for his vision and compassion."
Sullivan, a former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, is president of Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine and co-chairperson of the President's Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Daulaire is president and CEO of the Global Health Council.
04.12.02; Louis Sullivan, M.D.; Nils Daulaire, M.D.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.