Aid Targeting High Mortality Diseases ‘Lays The Groundwork’ For Improving Primary Health Care Services

“In recent years, initiatives such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have helped rein in some of the biggest scourges,” Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. “Scaling up PEPFAR, alongside other health initiatives, would bring a high return,” because “as we deepen the response to specific diseases such as AIDS or TB, we can broaden access to primary health services,” which “lays the groundwork for addressing health problems of all kinds,” he continues.

“Redoubling treatment efforts for leading causes of morbidity and mortality is not only the right thing to do, but it also must be a cornerstone of any effort to redress the inequitable burden of disease on the poor. It must be done in a way that helps build lasting, comprehensive, aid-independent health systems — as PEPFAR is doing, on an unprecedented scale,” Farmer writes, concluding, “The Obama administration and Congress will need conviction and grit to transform [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton’s vision [of an AIDS-free generation] into bold treatment targets and funding levels. Resources may be limited but, despite the global recession, they are less limited now than ever before” (11/17).