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Opinion: U.S. Global HIV/AIDS Funding; Maternal Health; Meeting Needs Of Recipient Nations

U.S. Lawmakers Should Not Slow AIDS Funding

According to a Concord Monitor opinion piece, PEPFAR has “fostered self-reliance… strengthened drug supply and delivery systems… trained new health care workers,” and the impact of U.S. tax dollars has been “multiplied” by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “A slow-down now in U.S. global AIDS funding could compound drug shortages and treatment disruptions already threatening HIV programs in the developing world,” according Jodie Ann Dionne-Odom, a medical doctor who has worked in Africa. She concludes that as lawmakers “make vital funding decisions in the coming weeks,” they should consider that these programs cost “less than one tenth of 1 percent of our budget, and the lives saved are priceless” (7/20).

‘Inattention’ To Maternal Health In Pakistan Promotes Suffering

Some of the “greatest suffering of women” in Pakistan “isn’t political or religious. It comes simply from the inattention to maternal health care,” writes columnist Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times opinion piece. Kristof profiles a Pakistani doctor’s efforts to improve women’s health care in the country, where “a woman dies every 35 minutes because of problems from pregnancy or childbirth.” He writes, “The underlying reason is that maternal health has never been a priority globally, either to poor countries or to foreign aid donors like the U.S. The only exceptions are Britain and Norway, and I hope the Obama administration will back them up” (7/18).

Foreign Donors Should Direct Funds According To National Priorities

Cambodia “has reduced the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the general population from more than 3 percent to just under 1 percent,” but that achievement “masks a darker truth,” which is that health policy in the country is determined “by the priority or caprice of officials in Geneva, Washington or Berlin – not Phnom Penh,” writes correspondent Joel Brinkley in a McClatchy-Tribune News Service/Sacramento Bee opinion piece. Although Cambodia’s health ministry a few years ago asked international donors help “establish a primary health-care system,” donors were “largely unresponsive,” he writes. While “[n]o one expects the international community to pick up responsibility for funding and staffing Cambodia’s hospitals,” he writes that “if the foreign donors at work here and in dozens of other poor nations made an effort to direct their money to the nations’ actual priorities, they might save millions of additional lives” (7/16).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.