Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
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Pepfar changes strategy, empowers Africa in HIV battle

South Africa is among nearly 30 African countries receiving billions of dollars in HIV/Aids funding from the US Government, all of which, thanks to adjusted strategies, will now be more involved in the planning and implementation of programmes to end HIV/Aids by 2030.

Dr John Nkengasong, head of the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), said: “We are changing how we do business. We now meet the Ministers of partner countries and civil society early to co-plan, instead of meeting them at the end of the planning period.”

The US global Aids co-ordinator wrapped up a two-week “country operational planning” meeting in Johannesburg last Friday with Pepfar’s 28 African partners and the Ukraine, reports TimesLIVE.

“A second huge change is we are planning for two-year cycles instead of one,” added Nkengasong, allowing partners more time to implement programmes.

The shift in strategy is giving organisations more control over their targets and priorities, guided by the latest evidence and science.

And in another change, Pepfar partners are told how much money they will be allocated before the country planning meeting, removing tension around funding and budgets from the planning process.

Partners are expected to finalise planning for their programmes in the next six to eight weeks, said Nkengasong, who is also the special representative for global health diplomacy at the US State Department.

Globally, the US Government has invested more than $100bn (R1.8trn) in HIV/Aids programmes – more than 95% in Africa – saving an estimated 25m lives and preventing millions of new infections since Pepfar’s launch 20 years ago, it reports.

Pepfar has supported the development of more than 3 000 laboratories in Africa – whose work includes surveillance of emerging infectious diseases like coronavirus and Ebola – and of hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers.

The value of “transformational” public-private partnerships was another lesson learnt during the pandemic, said Nkengasong, who was director of the Africa CDC from the outset through the height of infections.

The Africa CDC forged partnerships with bodies such as the Mastercard Foundation and Afreximbank Bank, which helped the continent secure life-saving medical supplies such as Covid tests and vaccines.

UCT medicine professor Linda-Gail Bekker, director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, said: “Country ownership and partnership will help to create a more sustainable and accountable environment.”

She said Nkengasong’s ability to “engage with African governments and leaders as well as US Congress first-hand” would contribute to Pepfar’s impact.

“Pepfar has been one of the most important interventions in our recent health history and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the American people,” she said.

About 8m people have HIV in SA, and an estimated 5.2m are on treatment.


TimesLIVE article – US adopts fresh approach to funding HIV programmes in SA (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


US to renew PEPFAR funding despite SA, Russia ties


New PEPFAR boss urges global health community to learn from African research


SA will send team to Washington to lobby PEPFAR funding cut






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