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Capitol Hill Briefing Examines PEPFAR Work

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog describes a Capitol Hill briefing that was held Wednesday “to discuss the various evidence-based approaches to prevent HIV infection that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program is implementing on the ground in the countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic.” According to the blog, “The briefing was the first in a series that will be hosted by the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator in the months leading up to the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July. This briefing was co-hosted by the Center, the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and PEPFAR (Mazzotta, 2/1).

KFF Webcast Assesses President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal, Potential Global Health Implications

The Kaiser Family Foundation held a live “In Focus” webcast on Tuesday “to assess President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal and potential implications for global health,” the foundation writes on its website. The webcast features a panel of global health policy experts, moderated by Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the foundation, “who analyze the Administration’s proposal and how it compares to current funding levels, what may happen as the budget winds its way through Congress, and the implications for the future of U.S. global health programs,” according to the website, which provides links to the panelists’ biographies (.pdf), the foundation’s Budget Tracker and a fact sheet on U.S. funding for the Global Health Initiative, among other resources (2/22). A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog provides quotes from panelists Beth Tritter, managing director of the Glover Park Group; Larry Nowels, a consultant with the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and the ONE Campaign; and Ambassador Mark Dybul, co-director of the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (Aziz, 2/21). The Medill School of Journalism’s “Medill on the Hill” also covered the discussion (Morello, 2/21).

New Initiative Focusing On GBV And HIV/AIDS Will Help Prevent Both

“The advancement of women’s health and their rights is one of the core principles of President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative,” a VOA editorial states, adding, “And so it is that the United States has rolled out a new initiative that will tackle one of the greatest threats to women’s health, HIV/AIDS, by attacking another scourge: gender-based violence [GBV].” According to the editorial, “Physical violence or the threat of physical violence and coercion are all associated with HIV transmission for women of all ages,” which is why “[i]n mid-March, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby announced an initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence issues.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio Addresses Future Of U.S. Foreign Policy

“On April 25, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for a major address on the future of U.S. foreign policy,” according to an event summary on the organization’s website. “Senator Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, examined whether U.S. global leadership is sustainable and even necessary in the 21st century” and “explored what Americans need to do at this juncture, abroad and at home, to adapt and prepare for the changing international environment in the years ahead,” the summary states (4/26). “Millions of human beings are alive today because the United States, and others in the global community, are paying for their antiviral medication. … We need to continue this kind of foreign aid investment, not just in PEPFAR, but in malaria control and vaccine programs and in agriculture initiatives so that we can make similar strides in preventing hunger and establishing a healthy global community,” he said, according to a speech transcript (.pdf) (4/25).

U.S. Government ‘Catalyzing’ International Community To End Preventable Child Deaths

“When it comes to promoting global health, the American people have much to celebrate and be proud of. With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. government has not only committed many billions of dollars and saved many millions of lives, it has changed the way the world approaches foreign aid,” former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Mark Dybul writes in an opinion piece in The Hill. He highlights several U.S. initiatives, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation, PEPFAR, and the President’s Malaria Initiative, among others, “that definitively changed how the U.S. serves its global sisters and brothers,” and writes, “[T]hese solid investments in saving and lifting up lives have changed how people around the world view America and Americans.”

Kenyan AIDS Activists Protest Over Unspent PEPFAR Funds

“More than 400 Kenyan AIDS activists have demonstrated in the capital, Nairobi, demanding that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief release some $500 million for HIV programs in Kenya that is stuck in the pipeline,” PlusNews reports. “The U.S. government recently revealed that close to $1.5 billion has been in the global PEPFAR pipeline for more than 18 months,” the news service notes, adding that the allocation to Kenya is the largest. According to the news service, “The protestors presented a memorandum listing their demands to U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, head of PEPFAR-Kenya Katherine Perry, Kenya’s Director of Public Health Shahnaz Sharif, and other senior Ministry of Health officials.”

Allowing Countries To Use PEPFAR Funding For Voluntary Contraception For Women Aligns With GHI’s ‘Women-Centered’ Approach

“PEPFAR has said it will use” nearly $1.5 billion in unspent aid “to invest in commodities (condoms, HIV rapid test kits and voluntary medical male circumcision kits), systems and institutions, and program strengthening,” Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Here’s one idea that would offer a huge return on investment and save the lives of millions: voluntary contraception for women,” she continues, adding, “Voluntary contraception has been called ‘the best kept secret in HIV prevention’ and has a proven evidence base.”

Strategic Innovations Will Help Prevent HIV Transmission From Mothers To Children, High-Level Meeting Attendees State

At a High-Level Meeting on Innovation for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) on Friday in Washington, D.C., “HIV experts, business leaders, aid agencies and ambassadors of 22 priority countries — home to 90 percent of new HIV infections among children –” agreed that strategic innovations are necessary to curb the spread of the virus from women to their children, PANA/Afrique en Linge reports. “The priority countries are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” the news service notes.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding

Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).

Support For Global Fund Helps Work Of PEPFAR

In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby provides an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating, “I am buoyed by the reform that is happening at the Fund under the leadership of new General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.” He adds, “When PEPFAR and the Fund coordinate, our investments against AIDS are expanded both geographically and programmatically. Simply put, a strong PEPFAR requires a strong Global Fund.” Goosby concludes, “I am proud of the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, in part because it is a commitment to the work of PEPFAR. We have a unique opportunity in a tight fiscal environment to support the Fund at this critical juncture” (4/9).