Smart Investments in the Fight against HIV and AIDS
February 14, 2011
How will the U.S. continue to lead the largest, most comprehensive initiative to combat HIV and AIDS worldwide, while addressing the current economic realities here and abroad?
This was the question posed last week in Washington, D.C., at a meeting attended by the Foundation and convened by the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC)
Dr. Anja Giphart highlights the impact of successful HIV
prevention programs. (Photo: EGPAF/Jen Pollakusky)
The answer: by making smarter investments in programs that we know are working.
OGAC administers the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the world’s largest public health undertaking, and one that’s widely seen as a success story.
The day-long meeting convened government officials, civil society members, implementing partners, and multilateral representatives at the headquarters of the World Bank. Various panels examined how to ensure that programs like PEPFAR spend U.S. dollars efficiently and effectively, ultimately saving more lives in the process.
During the discussions, the Foundation highlighted the impact of successful HIV prevention programs – including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) – in improving the overall health of women, children, and families.
Dr. Anja Giphart, Vice President of Program Implementation for the Foundation, participated in a panel that examined programmatic innovations that help integrate important HIV services with other health programs, thereby strengthening entire health systems.
Dr. Giphart gave several concrete examples of how integrating PMTCT with maternal and child health (MCH) services helps ensure that women and children around the world receive the quality health care they deserve.
When HIV and MCH services are not integrated, most HIV-positive pregnant women who need AIDS medicines must seek them elsewhere – separate from antenatal care, and sometimes even in separate clinics or facilities. This creates significant problems for follow-up, and often results in women not receiving the drugs they need to keep themselves healthy and protect their babies from HIV.
, Foundation programs provide AIDS medicines and antenatal care in a single health care setting. After integrating these services, the number of women receiving lifesaving treatment increased from 5 percent to 45 percent, over a period of just ten months.
Panelists (left to right): Dr. Kevin De Cock, Dr. Wafaa el Sadr,
Dr. Greet Vanderbriel, Dr. Anja Giphart (Photo: EGPAF/Jen Pollakusky
Similarly in Zambia
, a Foundation-supported project also showed dramatic increases in the number of women starting treatment when it was provided within the antenatal care setting.
These types of smart, innovative approaches to HIV prevention, care, and treatment enable programs to increase their efficiency, and obtain significant results for women and children worldwide.
The meeting also focused on tough questions, such as how foreign governments, with support from the U.S., can focus on both eliminating pediatric HIV /AIDS and enhancing overall MCH services. Here are some of the country-specific solutions presented:
and Botswana – Representatives from South Africa and Botswana proposed
thoughtful solutions for scaling up PMTCT, like reaching more women in rural communities, working with health care providers to offer more outreach-based care, and linking health facilities with communities.
– In Côte d’Ivoire, studies show that PMTCT actually enhances both the quantity and quality of other health care services, including family planning and nutrition.
– PMTCT programs help significantly reduce child mortality in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative children.
The meeting also underscored the critical role of U.S. support for global HIV/AIDS programs, which helps countries invest strategically and efficiently in health programs, and with greater cost-savings.
In 2010, with U.S. support, South Africa addressed the issue of HIV treatment gaps by overhauling its drug procurement and service delivery process, reducing the cost of HIV drugs by more than 50 percent.
In addition, PEPFAR assisted the South African Department of Health with the training of nurses and health care workers to deliver HIV medicines, which helped to double the number of sites that initiate HIV treatment nationwide.
Through PEPFAR and the broader Global Health Initiative, the U.S. is making great strides in improving efficiency, strengthening partnerships, and delivering results in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.
As last week’s meeting demonstrated, the health of millions of people around the world has improved because of these lifesaving programs.
But the discussions also showed how to continue those successes during a time of diminishing resources by replicating the innovations and interventions that save money, as well as lives.
Click here to read more about the Foundation’s advocacy and policy efforts
to eliminate pediatric HIV and AIDS, and improve the lives of children, mothers, and families worldwide.
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer for Africa, based in Washington, D.C. She recently returned from a year-long assignment in the Foundation’s Kenya office working on regional advocacy issues.