Washington Post Article About PEPFAR Involvement in Botswana ‘Badly Misses the Mark,’ Officials Say in Letter to Editor
Although Botswana "has used its own resources to lead a successful treatment program," the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which supports the country's HIV/AIDS programs, correctly "reported the nature of its partnership in Botswana and the number of people whose treatment benefits from that partnership," Botswana's Minister of Health Sheila Dinotshe Tlou and U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, write in a Washington Post letter to the editor in response to a July 1 Post article (Tlou/Tobias, Washington Post, 7/14). The Post reported that Batswana officials are disputing the Bush administration's claim that PEPFAR is supporting the treatment of 20,000 HIV-positive people in Botswana, saying that most of the funding for treatment has come from their own government and not the U.S. The Bush administration in January said PEPFAR was helping 32,839 HIV/AIDS patients in Botswana access treatment for the disease. However, some officials said the number misrepresented the facts or was inflated because of an error and agreed that PEPFAR had not supported the treatment of any patients in Botswana, according to the Post. The Bush administration last month released revised numbers, claiming PEPFAR was supporting treatment for 20,000 in Botswana (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/1). "It would be paternalistic and bad development practice for an international partner to parachute into a country and begin treating its people without regard for the country's needs," Tlou and Tobias write, adding, "Focusing on alleged squabbles about who should take credit for progress on AIDS in Botswana badly misses the mark." The authors conclude, "What matters is that the United States supports Botswana in ways that Botswana identifies as important to saving its citizens' lives" (Washington Post, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.