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October 2010
Global ID
Hearing Rebuts Myths about PEPFAR’s Impact

International HIV/AIDS advocates made a strong appeal for greater financial support for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) during a congressional hearing last month. They also sought to dispel myths about PEPFAR’s performance, highlighting the plan’s important contributions to countries’ health systems.

Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS & Rights Alliance of Southern Africa and Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, of Columbia University’s International Centers for AIDS Treatment and Prevention Programs (ICAP), spoke before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. A member of the Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee, Dr. El-Sadr heads one of the largest and longest-standing PEPFAR implementing programs. She challenged the view that PEPFAR has done little to help health systems, a view expressed in a recent Center for Global Development report.

Instead, Dr. El-Sadr told lawmakers, “[A] major contribution has been in the realm of health workforce innovations. ICAP programs have also supported new health worker cadres, from adherence counselors and outreach workers to advanced physician-assistant equivalents, such as the technicos in Mozambique—efforts aimed at addressing the severe shortage of health care workers. These models, systems, and investments position the health system to respond to other threats.”

Government witnesses, who presented updates on PEPFAR and U.S. backing for the Global Fund,  included U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, MD; Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); and Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a full wrap up on the hearing, including links to the witnesses’ testimonies and video clips from the hearing, please visit the Science Speaks blog.

In November, be sure to check out the blog for details about the Center’s Senior Policy Officer, David Bryden, and his discussion of a successful model of engaging scientists in policy and advocacy Nov. 13 at the International Union Against Tuberculosis (TB) and Lung Disease in Berlin. He will highlight the Center’s activities bringing the perspectives of physician-scientists to U.S. policymakers as part of a symposium entitled, "Perspectives on Global and National Advocacy to Reach Stop TB targets."

Stay tuned to for more information and a link to his presentation.
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