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PEPFAR Strengthens AIDS Programs, Broader Health Care Systems, Goosby Says

Describing PEPFAR as “a targeted approach on a large-scale and with accountability for results,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Tuesday said the program has done more than fight HIV/AIDS, having had a “broader transformational impact … on the health sector” in many countries, VOA News reports (De Capua, 7/10). Goosby delivered the keynote address at a Health Affairs briefing titled, “Assessing The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief: Past Achievements And Future Prospects For PEPFAR,” according to a State Department video of his remarks (7/10). The July 2012 issue of Health Affairs “examines the origins of [PEPFAR]; the lessons learned from implementation; the successes achieved in terms of human health and well-being; and the opportunities that now exist to lay the groundwork for an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” the Health Affairs Blog states (Fleming, 7/10).

Goosby “said improving hospitals, clinics and labs, as well as training health care workers and creating better supply chains have also strengthened health care systems in developing countries,” VOA writes, adding, “Goosby said PEPFAR will continue to push for ‘country ownership’ of HIV/AIDS programs” to allow local officials more authority over program content. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), who also spoke at the event, said that as Congress “dawdles” on budget negotiations, “anxiety is flowing out all over the world” about whether funding for PEPFAR will continue amidst the poor economy, according to the news service. “He warned PEPFAR is not immune from budget sequestration — automatic, across-the-board cuts that take effect if the president and congress fail to agree on deficit reduction,” VOA notes (7/10). Speaking to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog on the sideline of the event, Goosby “allowed that the current political situation includes challenges, but ‘the dialogue with Congress has been robust.'” He added, “I remain optimistic that we can educate our colleagues in both houses on the importance of this, not just as a humanitarian effort but for the health, safety and security of the American people,” according to the blog (Barton, 7/11).

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