HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

PEPFAR Funding Renewed

Posted on | October 29, 2008 | No Comments

An effort to improve our world

As we prepare for the upcoming election, many will evaluate the President’s performance over the past eight years. Even President Bush’s greatest critics, however, acknowledge his demonstrated commitment to global health. Perhaps the most notable example of this impressive commitment is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Originally launched in 2003 to combat global HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR provided $15 billion dollars in relief to more than 120 countries around the world, with specific focus on 15 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. And this summer, President Bush signed into law a reauthorization of the initial bill, expanding funding more than threefold to $48 billion over the next five years, to treat not only AIDS, but tuberculosis and malaria as well.(To read the Institute of Medicine’s evaluation of PEPFAR, click here).

While the United States made a strong statement about global health with its commitment—the largest by any nation in human history to combat a single disease—PEPFAR has been equally important in advancing international development. At its core, PEPFAR focuses on prevention, treatment, and care of those living with HIV/AIDS. However, this relief does far more good than help fight disease; it also promotes development. HIV/AIDS is closely linked with other public health threats and has ramifications for a wide-range of development-related concerns, including gender inequities, education, and nutrition. It is also considered a threat to national and international security, as reflected as early as July 2000, when the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution stating that “the HIV/AIDS pandemic, if unchecked, may pose a risk to stability and security.”

There will be many changes in Washington when a new administration comes into office, regardless of the party that wins in November. We hope, however, that President Bush’s passion for improving global health does not depart the White House with his administration. A healthier, more secure world does not have a political affiliation.

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