The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Dr. Eric Goosby as Global AIDS Coordinator might not have lasted 30 minutes, but the topics raised are of monumental importance as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was implemented under a new law (the Lantos-Hyde Leadership Act) approved last year.
Five months after his inauguration, President Obama nominated Dr. Goosby to fill the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) position. At Goosby’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) were the only two committee members present at the hearing – which might have concerned some of those in the audience, not to mention the brevity of the hearing itself. However, Sens. Feingold and Lugar voiced their strong support of Dr. Goosby’s nomination, PEPFAR and U.S. comprehensive global health strategies.
Dr. Goosby applauded the work that has already been accomplished under PEPFAR, from aggressive prevention programs to effective treatment centers. He went on to outline four major themes for the future of PEPFAR; “intensifying the focus on HIV prevention; pursuing strong country partnerships, country ownership and coordinated multilateral engagement; supporting health systems strengthening through programs and country-driven planning; and taking effective interventions to scale to achieve population-level health outcomes”.
Sen. Feingold highlighted three important areas that the United States needs to improve its programs and approach in addressing HIV/AIDS. First; the exploration of new prevention strategies to limit the spread of HIV, second; the integration of all U.S. global health programs and third; ensuring that U.S. programs support strong local health systems and health care professionals.
Sen. Lugar concluded his opening statement saying, “I am optimistic that the Administration and Congress will continue to work together to ensure that the U.S. lives up to our commitments and funds the program at a level that allows us to meet and possibly exceed the goals Congress set forth last year”.
The Global Health Council is hopeful that Congress follows Sen. Lugar’s advice and leadership in its funding of PEPFAR and other U.S. global health and development programs.
post by Duncan Rollason