October 4, 2010
Ahead of the replenishment meeting for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which kicks off today in New York, Inter Press Service examines the Obama administration's HIV/AIDS funding commitments. The article details last week's House Foreign Affairs' Committee hearing, where U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, together with a panel of other HIV/AIDS experts and advocates, discussed the future of PEPFAR together with President Barack Obama's six-year $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI).
According to the news service, "administration officials stress that incorporating PEPFAR into the GHI is a beneficial development," but some advocates disagree. During the hearing, Paula Akugizibwe, advocacy coordinator for the AIDS and Rights Alliance in South Africa, expressed concern that the Obama administration is scaling back its commitment to PEPFAR.
"Shifting funding from HIV will not fill the yawning gaps in resources for health -- this move is a cheap diversionary tactic that offers no genuine or long-lasting solutions for health systems," Akugizibwe said, warning that a scaling back of commitments to global HIV programs by the U.S. could reverse gains in the global fight against the disease. The article includes details on the release of the joint report on HIV/AIDS by several U.N. agencies last week.
Goosby defended the aims of the GHI and said the program will complement PEPFAR. "The metric that PEPFAR and all GHI programs use to measure success is not dollars spent, but lives saved," Goosby said. "In order to save as many lives as possible, we have focused on making smart investments that maximize the human impact of each dollar." IPS adds, "Goosby continued that the U.S. is the largest donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria -- having contributed more than 5.1 billion dollars to date."
The article includes comments by Wafaa El-Sadr, director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia University, who also testified before the committee. She emphasized that "PEPFAR supports tens of thousands of programs and sites embedded within antenatal care programs and primary care settings at health centers, district and referral hospitals ... [r]ather than reinventing the wheel, or starting from zero, we can build on this platform" (Boaz, 10/2).
Meanwhile, "[a]bout 700,000 people signed a petition for more funds to fight HIV which will be handed to U.N. [Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon on Monday ahead of a meeting of donors, the Born HIV Free campaign said," Agence France-Press/Straits Times reports. According to the news service, "[t]he petition calls for the international community to provide the necessary funds to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mothers to children by 2015, Born HIV Free ... said in a statement."
Ban will chair the Global Fund meeting on Tuesday, where donor countries are expected to make commitments to the Fund for the next three years (10/4). The Global Fund hopes donors will commit to between $13 billion and $20 billion to support programs from 2011 through 2013 (Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 10/1).