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Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

The full-court press is on for Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With the Global Fund’s replenishment conference set for early October, “this must be an intensive period of advocacy of all of us,” he told a group of D.C.-based global health advocates on Wednesday.

One of the first—and most important—signals on the Global Fund’s prospects for a robust replenishment will come from Washington, when lawmakers in Congress set the U.S. contribution to the Fund in the FY2011 appropriations bills, he said. The Global Fund’s conference is set for Oct. 4 & 5 at the United Nations, and Kazatchkine urged advocates to push for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be there in person, instead of a lower-level U.S. representative.

“It would be extremely meaningful if Secretary Clinton could attend and come with a pledge for three years,” he said. “It’s essential for stability and planning,” he said of the three-year pledge, adding that he and others understand such a multi-year commitment would be contingent on congressional approval.

So how much money is he talking about? “Big money … but peanuts if we compare it to what the world could find in three weeks times to rescue the financial markets,” he said. “Money is political choice.”

Kazatchkine said the Global Fund has drafted three different potential funding scenarios, and he focused on the middle one in his talk on Wednesday. Under that scenario, the Global Fund could continue funding all its current programs and expand at the same pace as it did in Rounds 8 & 9. To do that, the Fund will need $17 billion over three years, with a $5.5 billion three-year contribution from the U.S., he said.

He acknowledged that the political climate for making this request is tough, but said advocates must stress that poor countries have been hit even harder by the economic crisis and much is at stake.

“All the gains we have achieved are fragile, and if we slow down on this, it can be very dangerous,” he said. If access to treatment for HIV, TB or malaria becomes more restricted, “we can lose drugs because of resistance,” he noted.

On the other hand, the potential gains are immense. He cited, for example, the Fund’s efforts to improve and expand access to prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. “It remains unacceptable that 400,000 children were infected with HIV in Africa last year, when in France it was 4,” he said.

If resources for the Fund are sustained and expanded, he said, the world could see virtual elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015. “It would have not only a huge human impact, but also a huge symbolic impact,” he said. “I call it the beginning of the end.”

More broadly, the replenishment conference will go a long way to determining “where the world will be in 2015 in terms of global health,” he said.

In the video clip above, you can hear Kazatchkine’s response to a question about how advocates can answer questions from Capitol Hill about why robust funding is needed for both PEPFAR and the Global Fund, as opposed to one versus the other.

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today went further than other US government officials have so far in threatening specific repercussions if Uganda does not abandon its draconian anti-gay legislation.

At issue is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill set for consideration by the Ugandan Parliament that would impose life imprisonment or a death sentence for same-gender consensual sex and threatens prison time for individuals who do not report suspected homosexuals to the police. The proposed law has sparked international condemnation, and there is growing pressure from world leaders on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to stop the bill.

HIV experts are particularly concerned that the legislation would deal a major blow to Uganda’s successful AIDS treatment efforts, deterring an already vulnerable at-risk population from seeking HIV testing and treatment services out of fear of severe punishment and intimidating the health care workers who serve these populations.

So far, the expressions of dismay and threats of diplomatic fall-out from Western leaders have not seemed to seriously sidetrack the bill. But Wyden today highlighted a new US pressure point in the increasingly urgent campaign to nix the legislation.

In this news release, Wyden says said the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be a violation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which gives preferential duty-free status to imports from Uganda and some other African nations. One of the conditions of the law is that beneficiaries do not engage in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” Wyden notes in the letter he sent today to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk on the matter.

“There are few words that could adequately express the barbarity of the Ugandan proposal,” Wyden writes in his letter. “I strongly urge you to communicate immediately to the Ugandan government, and President Yoweri Museveni directly, that Uganda’s beneficiary status under AGOA will be revoked should the proposed legislation be enacted. President Museveni was an early and active proponent of AGOA and knows first-hand the significance of the legislation and the seriousness that Congress employed in shaping it. The significance of Uganda losing its AGOA beneficiary status will not be lost on President Museveni and other leaders in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Wyden also asks Clinton and Kirk to find out whether a similar trade benefit Uganda enjoys with the European Union could be revoked if the law is enacted.

Here’s the full text of the letter: Wyden Letter to USTR Re Uganda and AGOA Jan 2010

HIV physicians and scientists are increasingly alarmed and engaged around this issue, as evidenced by this letter from the South African HIV Clinicians Society. Letter from SA HIV Clinicians Society to Uganda Parliament 08 01 10 

Stay tuned for developments from their US-based counterparts.

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Uganda’s Minister of Health recently told leading U.S. decision makers that “concern is growing across the African continent about a slowdown in U.S. assistance” to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr. Stephen Mallinga says any weakening in U.S. support or funding for PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would be a significant setback for Uganda and other countries, and indeed could strain partnerships with key African allies. Mallinga’s letter references the Administration’s forthcoming Global Health Initiative and urges the Obama White House to maintain the pace of AIDS assistance even as they flesh out that new plan.

“I believe a U.S. Global Health Initiative will be most effective if it adds on to the work around AIDS rather than shifting resources and attention away from AIDS,” Mallinga writes. He said Uganda has benefited tremendously from PEPFAR. Among other achievements, he said the number of women accessing U.S.-supported prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services increased by nearly 45 percent in 2008 in Uganda.

“An even greater U.S. commitment to global health, strategically leveraging off of and intricately linked to PEPFAR’s successful interventions, could make it possible for Uganda and many other sub-Saharan African countries to make faster progress on AIDS while at the same time seriously addressing other health issues which have not received adequate attention or resources in past years, including maternal health,” he wrote.

No word yet about a response from Clinton or from Dr. Eric Goosby, the Obama Administration’s global AIDS coordinator, who was copied on the missive. Goosby visited Uganda around the time the letter was drafted, and in meetings with top Ugandan officials, he outlined his vision for PEPFAR and discussed the next steps in the U.S.-Uganda partnership against global AIDS. Click here to read the official State Department news release on Goosby’s trip.

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As Obama’s new global AIDS coordinator, Dr. Eric Goosby has no shortage of burning issues on his plate—from reports of ARV stock-outs in the developing world to questions about the long-term sustainability of PEPFAR. At a 1 ½ hour community meeting at the State Department Friday, the unassuming California doctor tried to reassure the global AIDS community that he has his eye on both the immediate and the far-reaching.

So even as he’s pushing aggressively forward to develop country ownership and building capacity for taking over AIDS programs, Dr. Goosby said he’s also urgently aware of the need to scale up prevention of mother to child transmission, to find ways to expand ARV treatment in a tight budget climate, and to meet new PEPFAR mandates, including recruiting 140,000 new health care workers.

In a wide-ranging session with more than 100 advocates and experts, Dr. Goosby said his overarching goal as head of PEPFAR is to build an enduring program that will be there to serve the sick and poor in developing nations for decades. “We are at an exciting point in PEPFAR’s evolution,” he said from the dais of an auditorium in the State Department. “Our charge now is to make sure that contribution is realized into the future, not for five years but for 25.”  

“… The economic downturn has created an urgency to this discussion that wasn’t there before,” Dr. Goosby said. But he acknowledged the country-ownership effort will take a decade or longer to achieve.

“No country is in a position to take over” these PEPFAR programs, but US and other leaders need to start the dialogue now, he said. (more…)

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The venerable South African AIDS group Treatment Action Campaign along with ARASA (AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa) are imploring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “do everything within your power” to protect women and children from the deadly epidemic.

In a letter released today, the groups recall President Obama’s pledge, during his campaign, to dramatically ramp up funding for the US global AIDS program.

“This promise has been diluted” by a call for a modest $100 million increase for PEPFAR and a flat-lined budget for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the letter says. “This increase is far below what is needed, and will result in opportunities lost to strengthen African health, including through more effective HIV prevention.”

The letter, pasted below and signed by TAC leaders Vuyiseka Dubula and Nonkosi Khumalo and Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, comes on the heels of a new campaign TAC launched last month in response to growing concerns about funding shortages for HIV/AIDS programs. (more…)

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