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March 2010
Global ID
Fragile PEPFAR Gains Slipping Away, Ugandan Clinician Tells U.S. Lawmakers

The Center for Global Health Policy brought Ugandan HIV clinician Peter Mugyenyi, MD, to Washington this month to give U.S. officials a firsthand account of the consequences in Africa from the near flat-funding of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

At a U.S. House of Representatives hearing, Dr. Mugyenyi testified that the flat lining in global AIDS funding has forced him and other health care providers to turn away sick patients—as many as 15 to 20 a day—who were promised treatment.

“Recently, an HIV-infected woman who was breastfeeding her HIV-negative child because she could not afford formula milk came to our clinic, having been turned away from three other clinics in Kampala because they had no slots. She knew that every day she breastfed her baby without being on treatment greatly increased the chances of her child getting infected, but she had no alternative,” Dr. Mugyenyi told U.S. lawmakers.

The situation, he said, jeopardizes the incredible gains PEPFAR has achieved in its first five years. “PEPFAR has saved millions of lives in Africa,” he said. “These people—and their mothers, husbands, wives, and children—got a chance to live” because of PEPFAR. But those fragile gains are already slipping away, he said.

Dr. Mugyenyi directs Uganda’s Joint Clinical Research Center, the largest PEPFAR implementer in East Africa. He was one of a half-dozen people in the room when PEPFAR was conceived in 2003 and has been one of the program’s most passionate supporters. During his trip to D.C., arranged by the Global Center and other groups, Dr. Mugyenyi met with key members of Congress, White House officials, reporters, and advocates, urging the U.S. to keep the promises made when Congress reauthorized PEPFAR as the Lantos-Hyde Act in 2008.   

Read more about Dr. Mugyenyi’s visit and other global health news at the Global Center’s blog, www.sciencespeaks.wordpress.com.

Recent blog highlights include:

  • A Q&A with Mel Spigelman, MD, president of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, about a new initiative designed to accelerate the development and approval of life-saving new treatments for tuberculosis (TB).
  • Highlights of a new issue brief outlining the threat of drug-resistant TB and detailing comprehensive steps that policymakers need to take to combat multi-drug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB. The full brief can be found here.
  • An interview with Dr. Kevin De Cock, recently tapped to launch the CDC’s new Center for Global Health.

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