AFRICA HEALTH NEWS
A WHITAKER GROUP PUBLICATION JULY/AUGUST 2008PEPFAR
US SENATE VOTES TOTRIPLE HIV/AIDS FUNDING
e US Senate voted overwhelmingly in July to commit $48 billionover the next ﬁve years to the global ﬁght against HIV/AIDS, tuber-culosis and malaria. e legislation, which builds on the President’sEmergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is the most ambitiousforeign public health program ever launched by the United States.
Senate approval is the last major obstacle to the bill’s becoming law.It is targeted to prevent 12 million HIV infections and treat three mil-lion people over ﬁve years. It also seeks to address Africa’s severe healthworker shortage by supporting countries in developing long-termhealth workforce plans and by funding the training of 140,000 newhealth workers.Since passage in 2003, PEPFAR has helped bring lifesaving antiret-roviral drugs to about 1.7 million people and has supported care fornearly 7 million, including about 2.7 million AIDS orphans and vulner-able children. It has also provided HIV testing and counseling to about33 million people. Before the program began, only 50,000 people in allof sub-Saharan Africa were receiving anti-retroviral therapy.e Senate bill diﬀers from the version passed by the US House of Representatives in April in several respects. In an amendment agreed to just hours before the ﬁnal vote, the Senate agreed to set aside $2 billionof the $50 billion designated in the original bill to fund American In-dian water, health and law enforcement programs. e bill also reversesa 21-year-old law that bans most foreign visitors who are HIV-positivefrom entering or gaining permanent residence in the US.In a concession to conservatives who feared that money earmarkedfor prevention programs would be used by abortion providers, the Sen-ate bill requires that more than half of the program’s bilateral aid goto AIDS treatment and care and avoids the requirement contained inthe House version that 20% of the money go to HIV prevention activi-ties. e Senate version also does not include the clause included in theHouse bill authorizing family planning groups to provide education,testing and condoms.e Senate bill provides $10 billion - $2 billion a year - to the GlobalFund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. About $4 billionwill be spent on ﬁghting TB, the leading cause of death among thosesuﬀering from AIDs, and $5 billion on combating malaria.Eager to send the bill to President Bush for his signature, the HouseForeign Aﬀairs Committee has said it would accept the Senate versionand the full House will take up approval of the legislation before Con-gress goes into summer recess at the end of July.Sen Richard Lugar (R-Ind), the top Republican on the Senate ForeignRelations Committee, credited PEPFAR with helping to prevent insta-bility and societal collapse in several at-risk countries. In addition, hesaid, the program had “facilitated deep partnerships with a new genera-tion of African leaders, and it has improved attitudes toward the UnitedStates in Africa and other regions.”
A red ribbon adorns the White House in recognition of World AIDS Day and the US commitment to ﬁghting AIDS globally.
3 MILLION NOW HAVE ACCESSTO AIDS TREATMENT
Nearly 3 million people in low- and middle-income countries werereceiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) by the end of 2007, accordingto a report released in June by World Health Organization (WHO),UNAIDS and UNICEF.
Towards Universal Access: Scaling up Priority HIV/AIDSInterventions in the Health Sector,
also documented improved accessto interventions aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, expanded testing and counseling, and greater country commit-ment to male circumcision in heavily-aﬀected regions of sub-SaharanAfrica.“is represents a remarkable achievement for public health,” WHODirector-General Dr. Margaret Chan said. “is proves that, with com-mitment and determination, all obstacles can be overcome. People liv-ing in resource-constrained settings can indeed be brought back to eco-nomically and socially productive lives by these drugs.”Reaching the 3 million ﬁgure represented a milestone for globalagencies ﬁghting HIV/AIDS because that was the target sought by theend of 2005. Although that target was not met until two years later, itwas credited with jump-starting the eﬀort towards sc