Los Angeles Times Publishes Articles About Partners in Health, Gates Foundation
December 18, 2007
The Los Angeles Times on Sunday published two articles on global health, one about Partners in Health and the other about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Summaries appear below.
- "Treating the Sick Without Bias": PIH, which "rejects narrowly targeted approaches" to address HIV/AIDS, has partnered with governments in Africa, Haiti, South America and Russia to improve health systems, the Times reports. PIH programs link medical care with nutrition, work and self-reliance for low-income people. In addition, PIH hires "accompagnateurs," or lay health guides, in communities to encourage people to seek medical care; take medication; monitor vaccinations; and look for health problems that require follow-up from a physician, nurse or social worker. The group also is training accompagnateurs to conduct home visits with pregnant women, encourage pregnant women to receive HIV tests and ensure that they give birth at a clinic. PIH next year plans to expand its program in Rwanda, which is funded in part by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Clinton Foundation. According to the Times, some officials in the Rwandan government have said that PIH programs in the country could foster dependency. "Everything for free -- we don't believe it is sustainable," Agnes Binagwaho, a top health official in the country, said. In response to such comments, PIH has helped people to form HIV/AIDS associations, provided training in farming methods and offered small loans to more than 6,000 farmers (Piller, Los Angeles Times, 12/16).
- "Unintended Victims of Gates Foundation Generosity": Gates Foundation programs in sub-Saharan Africa have targeted HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria because of their "devastating health and economic effects," but the programs it has funded "have had mixed influences on key measures of societal health," the Times reports. According to the Times, by focusing on "such high-profile killers as AIDS, Gates grantees have increased the demand for specially trained, higher-paid clinicians, diverting staff from basic care." The Gates Foundation's focus on the three diseases also has "shortchanged basic needs, such as nutrition and transportation," the Times reports. The Times adds that "because of the generosity of the foundation and other donors, millions of children have been protected against scourges such as malaria and measles -- and AIDS deaths in much of Africa are finally leveling off." According to the Times, the Gates Foundation has given $650 million to the Global Fund, which has used that and other support to pay for AIDS treatment for 1.1 million people and TB treatment for 2.8 million people. Global Fund executive director Michel Kazatchkine said, "We are a global fund for AIDS, TB and malaria. We are not a global fund that funds local health." He added that the Global Fund "cannot resolve all the problems of all the people." Tadataka Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's global health program, said that African countries need to do more to improve health. "We're a catalyzer. What we can't do is fill the gaps in government budgets," he said, adding, "It's not sustainable." (Piller/Smith, Los Angeles Times, 12/16).
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