MSH Director of Policy and Advocacy, Crystal Lander, reports from the ICASA conference in Ethiopia
I listened to the opening plenary session on Sunday evening as former U.S. President George W. Bush talked about the tough financial environment, particularly in the U.S. Bush reminded Members of the U.S. Congress – none of whom are here – that while it may seem easy to pull back on financial commitments to global health, priorities must be made to save human lives.
I applauded President Bush’s call to the U.S. Congress. I believe that it is imperative for the U.S. to fund all global health accounts – especially those that have suffered underfunding for years, like family planning and maternal and child health. I was struck that the elephant in the room remained: Where is the funding from African Nations?
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS executive director, was the only plenary speaker to openly call out the African Leaders in attendance to own their epidemic and prioritize funding. I was disappointed that every speaker did not do the same. Most speakers focused on praising President Bush. Yes, Bush deserves praise; but, why hasn’t his leadership sparked more nations do to it for themselves?
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Crystal Lander is the director of policy and advocacy at Management Sciences for Health.