HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today that he is preparing to depart on his first official visit to Africa to strengthen partnerships and continue dialogue on strategies to combat the global pandemic of diseases of poverty -- HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which combined claim nearly 6 million lives each year.
Departing Sunday, March 31, Secretary Thompson will visit Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Côte d'Ivôire. He will return to the United States on Saturday, April 6.
"There are an estimated 40 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS, with more than 70 percent of these people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Millions more are affected by tuberculosis and malaria, " Secretary Thompson said. "The scourge of AIDS threatens to destroy economies, social systems and the very fabric of local communities. There is no question that as a country, the United States must engage with other nations and across all sectors to fight the most devastating public health pandemics of the modern age."
Secretary Thompson's visit builds upon the Bush administration's strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the President's March 22 announcement of a Compact for Development -- a pledge to contribute $5 billion over three years to fund initiatives for developing countries to improve national economies and standards of living, including health education and health care treatment and service programs. Secretary Thompson's trip will be the first opportunity since the President's announcement for the administration to take that message directly to Africa at a high level.
During the week-long visit, Secretary Thompson will lead a White House Mission as they tour a variety of facilities offering voluntary counseling and testing and other prevention services, care and treatment, and support services to persons with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Additionally, the Secretary will meet with the respective Ministers of Health in each country to further discuss the development of cross-cutting health partnerships and capacity-building efforts to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, such as the development of disease surveillance systems. The Secretary will also discuss ways to strengthen and expand biomedical research and training efforts in those countries.
"I plan to get a firsthand look at how infectious diseases are affecting children, families, individuals and local communities in Africa," Secretary Thompson said. "Earlier this year, I announced that the President's fiscal year 2003 budget included a $100 million contribution from HHS and another $100 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to support the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The contribution builds upon the $300 million the President already pledged, for a combined U.S. total of $500 million - a truly ground-breaking effort."
As the U.S. representative to the Global Fund, Secretary Thompson's visit presents a unique opportunity to exchange dialogue on operations of the Fund.
Secretary Thompson's trip will highlight several key developments:
· Site visit to Premeiro de Maio (1st of May) Primary Care Clinic. In Maputo, Mozambique, Secretary Thompson and Mozambique Minister of Health Francisco Songane, will tour the Premeiro de Maio Primary Care Clinic, one of the first health centers in the country to provide an integrated approach to HIV/AIDS by offering education, counseling and testing.
· Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing Centers. Secretary Thompson and the Mozambique Minister of Health will sign an MOU to support collaborative efforts to enhance in-country HIV surveillance systems. The MOU will solidify Mozambique relationships among HHS, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, non-governmental agencies and private partners.
· MOU Signing for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity. While in South Africa, Secretary Thompson will participate in a cooperative agreement signing ceremony, further expanding operations of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity. The agreement will allow HHS to provide nearly $1 million in funds to strengthen the capacity of South African trade unions to implement effective HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs.
· Announcement of First-Ever U.S. Health Attaché for Africa. While in South Africa, Secretary Thompson will announce the appointment of F. Gray Handley, M.S.P.H., as the first-ever health attaché in Africa, based at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria.
The President's budget request for HHS in fiscal year 2003 for domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs and activities is $12.9 billion. In total, the Bush administration proposes spending more than $16 billion in fiscal year 2003 to combat HIV/AIDS at home and around the globe.
Other new HHS initiatives for infectious diseases include:
International AIDS Education and Training Center. Announced today, HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched a three-year, $1.5 million agreement to provide overseas health care providers with the latest training and education on caring for people with HIV/AIDS. The project will allow health care providers in Africa and India to receive information about the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV. Participating are the schools of medicine of the University of Washington-Seattle, and the University of California-San Francisco. For more information on the partnership, visit http://hab.hrsa.gov.
CDC Global Strategy to Fight Infectious Diseases. On March 22, 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled Protecting the Nation's Health in an Era of Globalization: CDC's Global Infectious Disease Strategy, which describes how CDC and its international partners can collaborate to address infectious diseases. The plan defines six priority areas developed in consultation with global public health partners to enhance the fight against infectious diseases: international outbreak assistance, global disease surveillance, applied research, application of proven public health tools, global initiatives for disease control and public health training and capacity building. To view the plan, visit http://www.cdc.gov/globalidplan.
NIH Global AIDS Research Strategic Plan. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will devote an estimated $187 million in fiscal year 2002 on AIDS-related research in international settings. The President's budget for fiscal year 2003 includes approximately $222 million. The Office of AIDS Research at NIH convened a Working Group of scientists from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S. to develop the annual strategic plan for international AIDS research and to identify urgent research priorities. Research priorities for resource-poor settings of the world include: development of research infrastructure, rapid initiation of studies of the use of antiretroviral treatment, definition of the spectrum of HIV-related diseases in diverse geographic areas, development of interventions to prevent transmission related to drug and alcohol use, identification of interventions to address HIV-related stigma, translation of research findings to treatment and prevention programs, ensuring ethical challenges are addressed in research and implementation of results. To view the plan, visit http://www.nih.gov/od/oar/public/pubs/fy2003/xi_international.pdf.
NIH Global Health Research Initiative. On February 12, 2002, NIH's Fogarty International Center (FIC) and eight NIH partners, announced a new Global Health Research Initiative Program for New Foreign Investigators to promote the productive re-entry of young NIH-trained foreign investigators from the developing world to their home countries. The grant program aims to enhance scientific research infrastructure in developing countries, while supporting research on critical global health issues, including AIDS, women's health, environmental pollution, and neurological and mental illness. The current combined financial commitment from FIC and its partners is $1 million per year to support grants of $50,000 annually for up to five years. For more information, go to http://www.nih.gov/fic.