Voice of America News (05.04.12) - Monday, May 07, 2012
New research refutes the concern that concentrated HIV/AIDS
funding during the last three decades has come at the expense
of other disease-fighting efforts.
The study team, led by Dr. Donald Shepard of Brandeis
University, focused on Rwanda. "The AIDS program was in the
process of being rolled out to many health facilities. So that
made it possible to do this controlled study of looking at
facilities that already had AIDS services and other facilities
that were similar but didn't - to try to see in that country
at least what the actual impact had been," Shepard explained.
Two teams of researchers visited each of the centers in the
study, using a questionnaire to evaluate the "inputs and
outputs" of each, Shepard said. "The inputs were the staff
that they had, drugs and other items that they received, and
the outputs were a series of services that they produced,
particularly in terms of visits and vaccinations, and other
types of services by health facility by year."
"We concluded that there was no evidence at all of the adverse
effect that some researchers had feared and speculated about -
and some evidence that indeed that there were positive
spinoffs," including the finding that health centers offering
HIV/AIDS services "provided better preventive care than those
that did not, including superior delivery of childhood
vaccinations," Shepard said.
"Rwanda has had a very deliberate policy of integrating AIDS
services into its health care system. So while from a donors'
viewpoint AIDS has separate mechanisms - in Rwanda's case, the
Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria] and [the US
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program] - within
the country itself, it had made a very conscious effort of
trying to integrate AIDS into the health care system and has
helped to strengthen the health care system more generally in
Rwanda," noted Shepard.
[PNU editor's note: The report, "A Controlled Study of Funding
for Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency
Syndrome as Resource Capacity Building in the Health System in
Rwanda," was published in the American Journal of Tropical
Medicine and Hygiene (2012;86(5):902-907).]