Goosby Outlines PEPFAR’s Strategy To Strengthen Health Systems In Reuters Interview

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby on Tuesday in an interview with Reuters discussed how as part of its new strategy PEPFAR will aim to “to transform healthcare in some of the world’s poorest countries,” the news agency writes. “Goosby, who has launched a new five-year strategy for PEPFAR, said it was time to address underlying healthcare problems in AIDS-hit countries – a huge expansion of program goals – even though the immediate crisis was far from over,” according to Reuters.

“We’ve created a very good start at what was an emergency response. We now need to move that emergency response into a sustained response,” Goosby told Reuters. “It’s a harder lift, it’s not as flashy, it’s not as rapid in our ability to deploy and put in place. But it is more durable.”

Though PEPFAR has helped to connect patients living with HIV with “life-saving drugs … Goosby said in many target countries medical systems cannot cope with the long-term burden of AIDS and other diseases, requiring new strategies to bolster healthcare programs now often run by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs),” Reuters writes, adding that in response to this need, a portion of PEPFAR funds will go to bolstering national health ministries and provincial health departments and training local health workers.

“Goosby said this would mean PEPFAR would act more as a technical advisor rather than a purveyor of drugs – although there are plans to get anti-retroviral drugs to 1.6 million more people over the next five years on top of the 2.4 million already receiving treatment thanks to the program,” according to Reuters.

Goosby stressed the Obama administration’s commitment to U.S. global health efforts while acknowledging “that tight economic times meant ‘we’ll be arguing to address the unmet need every year in our budget discussions,'” Reuters writes. According to the news service, “Some critics have voiced fears that the changes will undercut one of the most successful public health initiatives ever launched … “ (Quinn, 1/5).

The webcast of a Kaiser Family Foundation town hall with Goosby to discuss the PEPFAR five-year strategy is available online.

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