U.S. Policy Makers Must Focus on Overall Health of Women, Children, Not Just HIV/AIDS, Op-Ed Says
U.S. policy makers should support a proposal introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to provide $500 million in foreign aid for women and children in developing nations "at risk of death" from AIDS-related causes, but their "focus must remain on the human beings at risk, not the disease," Dr. Louis Sullivan, co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, and Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council, write in a Washington Times opinion piece. They state that AIDS "does not do its work in isolation" and urge lawmakers to address not only HIV but also the "health conditions that enable it to spread so viciously." According to the authors, foreign assistance must provide women and children in developing nations with adequate health care -- including prenatal care for women with HIV and care for newborns and children at risk for infection from the virus -- to "vigorously fight" vertical HIV transmission. Sullivan and Daulaire write that policy makers must "not only prevent infection of newborns but also help the survival of their already infected mothers." They add that policy makers must provide a "package of essential preventive services and care" to women and children in developing nations to promote "healthy children and intact families, not just children free" from HIV. Sullivan and Daulaire conclude, "None of these actions require dramatic new discoveries or enormous new investments. Most don't even require doctors. Yet, for years, U.S. support for international assistance directed at protecting the lives of young children and their mothers has languished, even as our response to AIDS has quickened. With his bold call, Mr. Helms has now changed the terms of the debate, rightfully framing the issue as one of basic morality rather than simply self-interest" (Sullivan/Daulaire, Washington Times, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.