PEPFAR and Global Health Initiative
NewsNotes, March-April 2010
Vol. 35 No. 2
Following is an excerpt from a letter sent by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations as the appropriations debate began in Congress. It was prepared with the help of MOGC intern Stephen Dewitt, OFM.
In 2008 the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS reported that the global AIDS epidemic had finally shown signs of stabilization. The number of new HIV infections declined from three million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2007. Furthermore, the overall number of people living with HIV/AIDS has steadily increased due primarily to wider access to anti-retroviral treatments (ARV) and better prevention and education programs. Together, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have provided the majority of funding for treatment and prevention programs.
Yet, more than half the people who need life-saving drugs are still not able to get them. According to Doctors without Borders, that includes an estimated six million people. For them, it is critically important to build on initial successes through increased funding.
Catholic AIDS Action in Windhoek, Namibia, led by Maryknoll Fr. Rick Bauer, reports that the organization’s 2010 funding from PEPFAR has been flat-lined and then reduced significantly after PEPFAR had already agreed to a certain funding level. This has forced Catholic AIDS Action to limit plans for a community tuberculosis screening program, as well as to let go a staff food and nutrition expert. How the Obama administration’s new Global Health Initiative (GHI) is designed and implemented should reflect the experience of community-based programs like that of Fr. Bauer.
If funded by Congress, the GHI hopes to help partner countries strengthen their health care systems, with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs addressing infectious diseases, nutrition, maternal and child health, and safe water. The GHI will encourage country ownership and support country-led plans, investing in “sustainable health delivery systems for the future.” Maryknoll agrees that countries need to take the responsibility for health care programs, including those serving folks with HIV, but believes that it will be a very long, slow process. Meanwhile, excellent existing programs should continue to receive necessary support.
The administration’s request for FY2011 reflects an increase in funding for global health, but no increase or a slight decrease in funding for AIDS relief. This is insufficient to sustain momentum in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic. It is also significantly less than was promised by the Lantos-Hyde Act of 2008, which authorized $48 billion in total spending by 2013 on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (39 billion for AIDS) and a maximum of $2 billion a year for the Global Fund starting in FY2009.
We urge Congressional appropriators to meet the commitment of the Lantos-Hyde Act of 2008 and support a increase in FY2011 appropriations for AIDS relief through PEPFAR to $7.25 billion and for the Global Fund to $2 billion.
Faith in action:
Contact your member of Congress and tell him/her to support the full funding of the Lantos-Hyde Act, and an increase in the FY2011 funding for PEPFAR and the Global Fund.