President Obama’s announcement that he is seeking additional federal monies for programs that prevent and treat HIV/AIDS comes at a critical time in the battle against the disease. In Ghana, a country that has witnessed relative success in recent years, officials had set as a goal providing treatment for at least 75% of those who needed it by 2015. It is an ambitious goal, and one directly tied to international support.
According to Dr. Angela El-Adas, the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, the anticipated loss of funding as a result of previous cut-backs has put in question Ghana’s goal of producing a generation without HIV/AIDS. “While the cuts were hard and felt premature, they were not totally unsurprising.” According to Dr. El-Adas, Ghana believes it can still make that goal, though she acknowledges that without sufficient funding, even the most modest of proposals would be set up to fail.
Since The Ghana AIDS Commission was anticipating a loss of some funding they were already making efforts to try and come up with additional private/public partnerships as a means of bridging that funding gap. With any luck, the announcement from the Obama administration will make that job a bit easier.
To reach that goal, from a public policy perspective, requires the Ghana AIDS Project prioritize funding and elimination efforts. That has made the elimination of mother to child viral transmission it’s top priority. Not only does it immediately address future generations, it is an element of HIV/AIDS policy that is politically palpable in a generally conservative culture and political climate.
What will be tricker is how the Commission will continue, let alone expand, those programs that reach more “difficult” populations politically, including female sex workers and gay men. Both prostitution and homosexuality are against the law in Ghana, which means sustaining a politically viable public health policy targeting those populations may be next to impossible when there are artificially limited resources. With any luck, today’s announcement by the Obama administration will help change that.
Care2 blogger Jessica Pieklo is reporting from Ghana as a guest of The Global Fund to help bring attention to efforts to eradicate malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. You can read more of Care2.comís coverage here.
Photo © The Global Fund / Nana Kofi Acquah