Compromise on PEPFAR Reauthorization

It looks like a bipartisan compromise on PEPFAR reauthorization has been reached which will do several things:

(1) provide even more money than President Bush asked for (which already represented a doubling over the previous five year program)

(2) ease the rules and restrictions that directed a portion of prevention money to abstinence, and

(3) invest in the training of more than a 140,000 health care workers.

These are all good things. Here is an excerpt from the Times editorial:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee this week approved a bipartisan compromise, crafted in negotiations between House leaders and the White House, that would authorize a hefty $50 billion over the next five years to support campaigns against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This represents a huge increase over the $19 billion appropriated in the first five years of the program and a significant increase over the new funding requested by President Bush. The president had originally proposed $30 billion over five years, primarily to fight AIDS, whereas the new bill would authorize perhaps $37 billion to $41 billion to the AIDS struggle.

In one farsighted move, money will be used to train some 144,000 new health care workers over the next five years to care for people infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. That is at best a start on easing the severe shortage of health care workers in the developing world, which some estimates peg in the millions.

The most troublesome ideological constraint on the program — a requirement that one-third of the funds used for prevention services be spent on abstinence education — has been greatly eased…. It requires countries to report if abstinence and fidelity funding falls below a certain percentage, but it sets no firm percentage that has to be met.

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