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CGD Policy Blogs


“A Chronicle of Hope and Promise”: Observations from Recent Journal Issues on PEPFAR

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.

Getting to Know the Global Fund: Diagnoses from Work in Progress

In this austere budget climate, generating “value for money” (VFM) is a top concern for global health funding agencies and their donors, who want the biggest bang for their buck in terms of lives saved and diseases controlled. To that end, CGD has convened a working group to help shape the VFM agenda with high impact recommendations for reducing costs, increasing impact per dollar spent, and focusing investments on the highest impact interventions among the most affected populations. Since our first meeting in April, we’ve been hard at work collecting evidence, consulting with global health agencies, and identifying the most promising areas for further investigation. The main funding agency under our VFM microscope: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Contraception: Necessary but Not Sufficient

Family planning is back with a bang, thanks to this week’s London Summit. The event, several months in the making, was the brainchild of the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the UNFPA. According to early reports, the Summit was a resounding success, raising $4.6 billion in commitments from government donors, NGOs, and international foundations. With these funds, donors have pledged to provide access to contraceptives for an additional 120 million women and girls, which they believe could prevent 200,000 maternal deaths, and stop 3 million infants from dying in their first year of life.