The Biden administration has not yet nominated a leader in the presidential emergency program to rescue AIDS. This is a $ 7 billion program that sets AIDS care priorities around the world. Especially miserable For people infected with HIV
PEPFAR is headed by Global AIDS Coordinator, the last cabinet-level position Dr. Deborah Birx served. Dr. Burkes left to join the White House Coronavirus Task Force from April 2014 to February 2020. Since the inauguration of President Biden, Vice President Dr. Angeli Acrekar has been the interim leader of PEPFAR.
Global health experts have sharply criticized the delay in appointing the permanent president. “Can’t we think and act on two pandemics at once?” Asked long-time HIV activist and epidemiologist at the Graduate School of Public Health, Greg Gonzalves.
PEPFAR was launched by President George W. Bush in 2003 and has since been bipartisan. The funds distributed by PEPFAR will be used to support preventative and therapeutic programs such as providing voluntary male circumcision, testing for HIV, and providing anti-retroviral therapy to people of all ages.
It is widely regarded as the most successful global health program. Since its inception, the US government has invested more than $ 85 billion in more than 60 countries, saving an estimated 20 million lives.
“PEPFAR is an example of what you can do when you combine diplomacy with global health,” said Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta and chair of PEPFAR’s Scientific Advisory Board. “Across Africa, they love and respect the United States thanks to PEPFAR.”
Last week, a group of over 50 advocacy groups Sent a letter He urged Mr. Biden to immediately appoint a “bold, creative and qualified” leader for PEPFAR. “This is unacceptable, especially during the pandemic of the duel between HIV and Covid-19,” they wrote.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and access to condoms, lubricants, and antiretroviral drug supply chains. Recent reports From UNAIDS.
And the pandemic has reversed the struggling progress in eradicating HIV, including a 23% annual reduction in new infections since 2010.
“The inertia to appointing leaders is” more leadership to guide global efforts to make up for the lost position of HIV control, “said Suraj Madoori, director of the advocacy group Therapeutic Actions Group. Especially when ambition and governance are urgently needed. Based in New York.
A new study published last week showed that more and more people are living with HIV. Risk of serious illness and death From Covid-19. According to experts, the coronavirus pandemic may also benefit from the medical infrastructure set up to serve HIV.
“There are many things that can happen now by using the PEPFAR structure to confront Covid in these countries,” said Dr. Del Rio.
“I’m not leveraging the PEPFAR infrastructure. I think it’s crazy. I missed a big opportunity,” he added. “This administration has been around for six months. Why didn’t you appoint them?”
Dr. Del Rio said the PEPFAR chief was significantly absent from global conversations, including a recent UN resolution. End AIDS by 2030, And an effort to enable the PEPFAR site to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. It is also important for the PEPFAR chief to speak up about the program when the budget is allocated, Dr. Del Rio added. “The program basically feels like it’s stopped.”
Richard Lucimbo, program manager for Pan-African ILGA in Uganda, said the lack of US voice has had a spillover effect on many problems in African countries. Core programs for key people like LGBTQ people have been reduced in some countries since the inauguration of the Biden administration. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, the budget for major population services has been cut in half.
In Kenya, there is a shortage of antiretroviral drugs due to a dispute between the government and the United States Agency for International Development. Mr Lucimbo said a permanent PEPFAR leader with political power could have resolved the dispute.
Biden nominated Samantha Power as the leader of the USAID on January 13th, before taking office.And last week, the White House Announced candidates The other 7 positions.
For weeks, the HIV community has heard that the government is considering five well-known global health professionals, Shannon Hader, Charles Holmes, Chris Baylor, Vanessa Kelly, and Paul Farmer, who lead PEPFAR. I am. However, no candidate has emerged as the most promising candidate.
“Unfortunately, we are watching because global support for Covid-19’s response in Africa has been lost, AIDS response has weakened, and it is not clear who the leader of the U.S. government is.” Said Lucimbo. “Does the government understand that the AIDS response and the Covid-19 response are critically interrelated for our community?”
PEPFAR does not yet have a leader. HIV activists want to know why.
Source link PEPFAR does not yet have a leader. HIV activists want to know why.