PEPFAR Could Build Bridges to Malaria Programs

Under its new strategy, “PEPFAR patients will also be treated for tuberculosis, malaria and previously untreated tropical diseases,” according to a Washington Post editorial.  This is possible because, “PEPFAR 2 has three pillars: prevention, integration and improved health-care systems.”

pepfar.jpgThe Post further explains that with PEPFAR 2, “The goal is to make the services a routine part of each nation’s health offerings.” The Post quotes Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, as saying that, “We need to transition them into being more embedded in the countries’ infrastructure and for the countries to have true ownership of them.”

Research in Rakai, Uganda, has found, “Excellent self-reported retention and appropriate use of ITNs distributed as a part of a community-based outpatient HIV care programme. Participants perceived ITNs as useful and were unlikely to have received ITNs from other sources.” What PEPFAR 2 appears to be calling for is a more integrated systems approach that through the new US Global Health Initiatives that ensures that mothers, children and families get the full range of services they need from an improved and sustainable local health service.

Even before this greater focus on MCH, health professionals like Walensky and Kuritzkes, have noted the “massive direct and indirect benefits PEPfAR has achieved already for mothers and children. It may be that PEPfAR—by providing health infrastructure, HIV prevention, parental survival, and the opportunity to sustain economic growth.”  Though not stated directly, these views describe an environment that is also more favorable to malaria control.

There are those who see global health programs like PEPFAR and GFATM as “distracting governments from coordinated efforts to strengthen health systems and re-verticalization of planning, management and monitoring and evaluation systems.” Biesma et al. note that there is much more that donor programs “could do much more to promote country ownership through aligning their objectives with comprehensive national health.” The Washington Post editorial indicates that this is exactly where the new PEPFAR strategy is aiming.

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