Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where is it all going wrong?

Is Obama getting it wrong? There has been a lot of buzz lately about his responses to global health issues - particularly HIV & AIDS. I have blogged elsewhere on the detrimental impact of his changed funding priorities is having on HIV treatment, and the concern that much of the good done by PEPFAR could be lost.

This post from the Huffington Post suggests, quite rightly, that while Obama is right to focus on a wider range of health issues, including maternal and child health (arguing that you cannot deal with one disease at a time, but with the whole constellation of health crises), this should not be at the expense of the work already done on HIV treatment. It's both/and, not either/or.

But, at a time when the economic downturn is putting pressure on aid budgets everywhere, it is harder to make a case for the big spend. While our own government claims to be ring fencing aid spending, the reality is that many in the Tory Party, the right wing press, and quite a few members of the public, are arguing that we need to concentrate on our domestic ills rather than the needs of the world's poorest. Actually, the decision to up the aid to Afghanistan (a significant proportion of which seems to be disappearing into the pockets of a corrupt elite) only serves to strengthen the naysayers.

Aid, where it works, needs to be maintained and expanded - at least until such time as it is no longer needed (which should always be its ultimate aim). We cannot back peddle now!