Disconnecting Global AIDS From Reproductive Health Stalled Efforts to Expand Family Planning Services, UNFPA Head Says

Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNPFA), said in an interview with the Guardian that “efforts to expand family planning services in the developing world stalled for a decade while global health organizations turned their energies to fighting HIV/AIDS. ‘We made a mistake. We disconnected HIV from reproductive health. We should never have done that because it is part and parcel,’ he said.” The newspaper adds, “Osotimehin said the international community was regaining momentum in its efforts to make family planning services available to women in all countries” and “argued it was crucial for developing countries to devote a larger share of their own resources to family planning and health.”

“By criticizing decades of development policy by the U.N. and world governments, Osotimehin’s remarks are hugely controversial,” the Guardian notes. Adding that “experts on HIV/AIDS and population challenged his views,” the newspaper reports, “‘AIDS was, and continues to be, a make-or-break emergency in much of sub-Saharan Africa,’ said Siddharth Dube, a former senior adviser at UNAIDS and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York.” According to the newspaper, Population Action International policy advocate Erika Larson said, “There is no doubt that the incredible investment in a rapid response to address the HIV/AIDS crisis has saved many lives” (Goldenberg, 10/24).