It’s that magical time of the year when we bring you the top 10 most read entries on the CGD Global Health Policy Blog. Together, these top posts had a total almost 20,000 unique page views. This year the blog asked for your feedback on evaluating the quality of health aid, addressed the debate over entities like the GHI and AMFm, and discussed everything from cash transfers to priority-setting.
CGD Policy Blogs
Many currently believe that US domestic entitlements are too large, but disregard the fact that the PEPFAR program has created a new class of moral entitlements overseas – in the form of 4 million and counting people receiving US-supported life-sustaining AIDS treatment in low and middle income countries around the world. Of course, the approximately $2.7 billion that the US spent in 2011 (53% of the $5.3B 2011 budget) on supporting the treatment of these people is only about two-tenths of a per cent of the US’s annual expenditure on Socia
Around this time last year, world leaders called for “the beginning of the end of AIDS” and an “AIDS-free generation”, and committed to reaching the ambitious disease-specific targets for HIV/AIDS: the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission; 15 million people on treatment and a reduction in new adult and adolescent HIV infections — all by a rapidly approaching 2015. And this year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recommitted to these ambitious goals in the release of the PEPFAR Blueprint, saying “An AIDS-free generation is not just a rallying cry — it is a goal that is within our reach”. While the overarching World AIDS Day message remains clear – we have made tremendous progress thus far, and there is still a long way to go in the fight against AIDS – one question remains: is this really the beginning of the end of AIDS?
The US government spends about $6.4 billion a year on preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the developing world, and 4.5 million AIDS patients depend mostly on US generosity each day for the AIDS medicines that keep them alive.
Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.
These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.
As the Global Fund’s November board meeting approaches – where the future of the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm) hangs in the balance – there is much anxiety that AMFm will be terminated in 2013. The reason for such anxiety is clear: no donors have pledged funding commitments for after December 2012. But there’s another elephant in the room: the US government’s apparent lack of support, particularly its legislated “opt-in” stance on AMFm: “the Global Fund should not support activities involving the ‘Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria’ or similar entities pending compelling evidence of success from pilot programs as evaluated by the Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat Malaria Globally.” (Conversely, an opt-out stance would be to support AMFm unless no compelling evidence is presented.) This very specific and strict provision makes the AMFm’s continued survival all but impossible without an explicit endorsement by US Global Malaria Coordinator (currently Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer) who leads the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) housed in the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Two messages reigned supreme at last month’s International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Washington DC: 1) that there should be universal coverage of HIV/AIDS treatment and 2) that international funding for HIV/AIDS has been flat-lining recently and may even shrink. The most optimistic scenario to reach universal coverage will cost $22 billion dollars annually, which means raising an additional $6 billion per year. Clearly, the goal to provide treatment to the 34 million people currently living with AIDS, and the approximately 2.5 million newly infected each year, conflicts with the reality of shrinking aid budgets.
This month, both Health Affairs and the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS) released special thematic issues on the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in which the articles – mainly commentaries but some analyses – provide an exceptionally positive readout on PEPFAR’s past performance and future direction. In principle, this is great – any insights into PEPFAR are always welcome, and it’s clearly valuable to discuss and disseminate lessons learned from the program. If these articles were posted on the PEPFAR website, or released as official PEPFAR reports, we wouldn’t bat an eye. But within scientific, peer-reviewed journals, the articles read more like PEPFAR PR rather than commentary and analysis from independent, third-party observers and stakeholders. A quick skim of the titles in the table of contents illustrates this point (see word cloud of selected title excerpts), and a closer look at the contributors sheds some light on why this may be the case: most authors of the articles are somehow affiliated with PEPFAR or with organizations that have received money from the program.