Harvard School of Public Health Behind in Administering PEPFAR Grant for HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs
The Harvard School of Public Health is "dramatically behind schedule" in administering a $107 million grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to help place 75,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Africa on antiretroviral drugs, the Boston Herald reports. PEPFAR awarded HSPH the grant in March to help administer antiretrovirals in Nigeria, Tanzania and Botswana. However, the school currently is providing medication to only 1,500 out of a first-year treatment goal of 8,000 new patients in Nigeria, according to project head Phyllis Kanki. She added that the school is treating only 200 new patients in Tanzania out of a projected first-year goal of 3,000 patients. "We started slowly on purpose, to make sure everything is working properly," Kanki said, adding that in Tanzania "everything was delayed because the government was making a very large purchase for the whole country. Now we should be able to get going." In Botswana, the government wanted to utilize the Harvard program to monitor and train medical personnel working in government clinics rather than open a Harvard-run clinic, according to Kanki. Therefore, the HSPH program will "get credit for the 2,000 new patients each month that are being treated at government clinics" in the country, according to the Herald.
The current number of new patients being treated under the Harvard program allegedly has "alarmed" Harvard University President Lawrence Summers and "raised questions about the program's leadership," the Herald reports. "Summers is apoplectic. He sees a major scandal brewing here," an unnamed source who is close to Summers said, according to the Herald. Summers also is "reportedly disappointed with Kanki's performance" and has "apparently questioned her qualifications," the Herald reports. Kanki holds a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate in virology from HSPH. She has worked on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa for almost 20 years, according to the Herald. However, a spokesperson for Summers "denied that he had said anything derogatory about Kanki or her program" and that it is "[a]bsoutely untrue that Larry Summers is putting out any (such) word," the Herald reports. Catholic Relief Services and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which also have received PEPFAR grants, said they each have enrolled approximately 5,000 new patients (Strahinich, Boston Herald, 10/19).