Ending Epidemics Briefing on Capitol Hill
This week on Capitol Hill the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) joined Path, Results, and Friends of the Global Fight to educate lawmakers and Congressional staff about critical U.S. investments to end HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world.
An expert panel, including Ambassador Mark Dybul, former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and former head of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program; Dr. Jennifer Kates, Director of Global Health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation; Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, former Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at Health and Human Services; and EGPAF's Director of Clinical Research Dr. Appolinaire Tiam, discussed critical issues facing the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria responses today.
The panelists all expressed the important role U.S. investments and U.S. leadership have played in addressing these diseases, and while there has been much progress, pulling back now could mean all of those gains would be lost. Ambassador Dybul stressed that U.S. leadership means “everything” in the fight against these diseases and Dr. Kolker noted that if the U.S. can sustain efforts we can ensure that these diseases are no longer public health emergencies.
Dr. Tiam, speaking from his time working in Lesotho, spoke passionately about the direct impact of U.S. programming on the ground. Between 1996 and 2006 Lesotho’s population dropped by 400,000 even with a strong fertility rate in large part because of the HIV/AIDS crisis. If not for these investments the country would have only seen further decline. However, now there is much hope - life expectancy has increased by 10 years and the economy is starting to recover.
The importance of research and innovation was also discussed during this briefing, including the need for new technologies and showing proof of concept for new programming avenues. Reaching the “last mile” and ending AIDS as a public health emergency means the U.S. needs to double down on its efforts— both in the scale of programming, as well as in finding new approaches to address HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.