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Opinions: PEPFAR; Private-Civil Society Partnerships In Africa; Global Maternal Mortality; SA HIV Testing Campaign

Maintain Funding Commitments To PEPFAR

“The Obama administration’s new Global Health Initiative, designed to broaden and better integrate health programming overseas, deserves wide support. But stalling on global AIDS threatens to undermine the worthy goals of the initiative,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public polity for the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), writes in a Boston Globe letter to the editor calling for sustained support for PEPFAR. Last week the Boston Globe examined how PEPFAR budget pressures are affecting HIV clinics in Africa, which Collins writes “raises serious concerns about the future of U.S. efforts to address global HIV/AIDS.”

“We cannot hope to establish sustainable health services in developing countries as waiting lines for AIDS treatment grow,” Collins writes. “To realize the goals of the Global Health Initiative, Congress should expand investment across a range of global health programming, including HIV/AIDS” (4/17).

Emergence Of Private Sector-Civil Society Partnerships In Africa

In a New York Times opinion piece, musician and humanitarian Bono reflects on the growing number of partnerships between the private sector and civil society in Africa. “[B]oth these groups … see poor governance as the biggest obstacle they face. So they are working together on redefining the rules of the African game,” Bono writes, before highlighting several projects in Africa reflecting this trend.

“Because most Africans we met seemed to feel the pressing need for new kinds of partnerships, not just among governments, but among citizens, businesses, the rest of us. I sense the end of the usual donor-recipient relationship,” Bono writes. “Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. … But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid – smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. … [S]mart aid can be a reforming tool, demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination,” according to Bono (4/17).

Reduction In Maternal Mortality Shows There’s ‘Hope In Reducing Deaths In Childbirth’

In the New York Times’ “On the Ground” blog, columnist Nicholas Kristof reflects on why the recent report finding that global maternal deaths fell by more than 35 percent between 1980 and 2008 is “good news” for people working to reduce maternal mortality. “One of the mistakes humanitarians sometimes make, I believe, is to emphasize all the things that go wrong. … If maternal mortality has remained constant for a quarter-century (as we thought), then who wants to take up the cause?” Kristof writes. “My sense is that people want to be part of something hopeful, something that manifestly can be changed and made better. And that’s what the new study confirms: there is hope in reducing deaths in childbirth, and more resources can make the toll drop even more. We know what to do, we just need to do it better” (4/16).

The New York Times also features a series of letters to the editor that reflect on the recent progress in driving down maternal mortality and the future challenges ahead (4/18).

International Community Should Support South Africa’s HIV Testing Plan

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece that the mood in South Africa is “upbeat … about the way the country is responding to AIDS. The government and civil society groups are talking and working together. Academics and activists are engaging in evidence-informed discussions with officials to make the right choices about HIV programmes. The government has shown its seriousness by investing more than $1billion (R7.3billion) in the AIDS response this year.”

“I believe that South Africa can break the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic – in Africa and globally,” Sidibe writes while discussing the importance of the country’s HIV counseling and testing campaign, which aims to test nearly 15 million people for HIV by 2011. “[T]he international community should do all it can to support this effort,” according to Sidibe. “By taking an HIV test, each South African can say: ‘I am responsible.’ By creating the right environment for access to testing and counselling and reducing stigma and discrimination, communities and health and social systems can say: ‘We are responsible,'” Sidibe writes (4/16).

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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.