FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Secretary To Visit Africa
Stops Include Communities Benefiting from U.S. Government Funding
in Fight Against HIV/AIDS and Malaria
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and a group of senior U.S. government leaders will visit four African nations to observe U.S. government programs that are delivering life-saving health care and sustenance to underserved communities, beginning Friday, Aug. 17. The Secretary will meet with top host-country government officials during the 10-day mission, as well as multiple sites that are providing health care and basic social services in each country.
The countries are South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Rwanda, and the Secretary's itinerary will include visits to communities that are receiving funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In each country, the Secretary and his delegation will spend one day in the capital city, to meet with government and civil-society leaders, including from faith-based organizations, and will then travel to a rural area to spend time with families in smaller communities. Among the sites will be urban hospitals, rural health clinics, home-based-care settings, programs for orphans and academic institutions. These site visits will both reinforce partnerships with host-country organizations, and allow Secretary Leavitt to assess the impact of U.S. government-sponsored programs in Africa. The visit comes on the heels of President Bush's call to Congress to support his efforts to double the initial funding of the Emergency Plan as it begins to consider reauthorization of that program this fall.
"On behalf of the American people, the President has made unprecedented commitments to fight HIV/AIDS and other major health threats in Africa," Secretary Leavitt said. "The Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative has helped bring hope to millions of people in Africa over the last three years. I am excited to visit these important programs to see, first-hand, how these programs are working in communities to improve lives."
In each of the countries, the Secretary will get an on-the-ground perspective on the health care and social service systems that are delivering treatment, preventing illness and supporting families:
- The integration of biomedical research with on-going HIV-prevention, care and treatment programs that are serving the community via interagency collaboration.
- U.S. government programs that are working to bring care to people affected by severe poverty and inadequate infrastructure, as well as future investments of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
- U.S. government strategies in action to improve the training of current health workers, expand the available health workforce, and engage communities in the delivery of health care, including participating in a campaign to spray houses against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
- Post-genocide investments to reconstruct the health system and use information technology to improve health care in both urban and rural settings.
Secretary Leavitt's trip comes just days after HHS' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the 50th and 51st AIDS drugs authorized by FDA in association with the PEPFAR program. This authorization is part of the President's five-year, $15 billion effort to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 15 focus countries in Southeast Asia the Caribbean and Africa, including the four nations the Secretary will visit. Through the PEPFAR program, the U.S. government is now supporting treatment for 1.1 million people worldwide, more than a million of them in Africa.
The Secretary will also see the PMI in action as he visits Mozambique and Tanzania and Rwanda, three of 15 focus countries of the PMI -- a program launched in 2005. At least 1 million infants and children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from malaria -- one approximately every 30 seconds. The PMI commitment boosts U.S. malaria funding by more than $1.2 billion over five years to reduce deaths due to malaria by 50 percent in 15 African countries. This goal focuses on reaching 85 percent of children under age five and pregnant women -- the most vulnerable groups -- with four key activities: the indoor spraying of homes with insecticides; the distribution of long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets; the use of newer, lifesaving anti-malarial drugs; and the provision of treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women.
The PMI is already saving lives, and has reached more than 6 million Africans. The PMI has distributed more than 1 million mosquito nets to protect pregnant women and children under age five; conducted indoor residual spraying campaigns to shield over 2 million people; and procured over a million treatments of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and other anti-malarial drugs to treat the disease.
Traveling with Secretary Leavitt will be Ambassador Mark Dybul, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; the Honorable Kent Hill, Ph.D., Assistant Administrator for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development; RADM Tim Ziemer (USN, ret.), U.S. Malaria Coordinator; Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., Director of the HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Roger Glass, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Fogarty International Center of the HHS National Institutes of Health; and Carol Thompson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Together, these efforts are a part of America's larger commitment to health and hope around the world. To learn more about HHS' Global Health Diplomacy work, visit www.globalhealth.gov; to learn more about the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, visit www.pepfar.gov; and to learn more about the PMI, visit www.fightingmalaria.gov.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: May 7, 2011