Hill Hearing on AIDS Funding

Yesterday, within the robust walls of the US Capitol, four important players in the game of private-sector organizations met to discuss the importance of public-private partnerships, as well as US federal funding, to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. Olutosin Akinyode and I attended the forum.

Lisa Bohmer (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation), Maurice Middleberg (Global Health Council), Jeff Richardson (Abbott Fund) and Jane Kambalame (Embassy of the Republic of Malawi) held a hearing illustrating the necessity of PEPFAR as vital to the effectiveness of each organization.

Many of these groups are funded and supported by PEPFAR and are examples of what the bill has done and can do in the future – increased support will allow them to reach more men, women and children with HIV/AIDS. The reauthorize PEPFAR bill will double the number of people on retroviral treatment to 3 million, including over 450,000 children.

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The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation began its international programs in 1999 with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and have since been aided by PEPFAR and other private-public funds. Their programs have helped over 4.8 million women prevent transmission of HIV to their children in over 2,800 sites around the world. Bohmer states than an essential component of effective Public-Private partnerships is strong leadership and governance on the national level.

The Abbott Fund partnered with the PEPFAR Partnership for Pediatric AIDS Treatment and the Government of Tanzania, and has trained over 7,600 health care workers in Tanzania and provided over 50 million rapid HIV tests throughout Africa. Richardson reminded the audience that “no one can do it alone,” hence the need for effective partnerships. He concluded by listing the 3 C’s essential to fighting the HIV epidemic. “If we can collaborate, coordinate and cooperate with good partners then we will be able to turn the epidemic around”

The Global Health Council has been providing NGOs and local communities with the funding and resources they need to combat preventable diseases for over 35 years. Middleberg stated that there must be clear consensus on goals, articulated strategies, defined roles and responsibilities, and transparency for any partnership to work.

Jane Kambalame from the Republic of Malawi, where 900,000 men, women and children live with HIV/AIDS, noted how global advocacy partnerships have improved medical care via investment in technology, infrastructure and direct treatment. The shortage of facilities and doctors delay the treatment and care of HIV/AIDS. However, Kambalame believes the Public- Private Partnerships in Malawi have helped fill the resource gap and have led to visible improvements. She stressed the importance of the reauthorization of the PEPFAR bill and the expansion of PEPFAR to new countries is essential to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Learn more about PEPFAR here.

-Betsy Avila, with Olutosin Akinyode