“Lancet” evaluates Obama, McCain on global health

Following up on this post, here’s some more info on where the major US presidential candidates stand on global public health in general and HIV/AIDS efforts in particular.

The Kaiser Network reported today that the Lancet, a top medical journal, published an article on this subject in their August 16 issue.  Here’s the Kaiser summary:

Obama vs. McCain on Global Health“: The article examines the positions of presumptive presidential nominees Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on global health issues, including HIV/AIDS and international development. Some global health experts say the (“key difference” between McCain and Obama on global health is that Obama is more invested in the issue, the Lancet reports. “Obama has a personal knowledge and interest that is not insignificant,” Stephen Morrison, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Taskforce and the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, adding, “He made sure he was smart around the issues of global health.” According to Morrison, “I do not think McCain is indifferent, but I do not think he has the same level of personal knowledge or passion.” Although McCain is a supporter of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and has pledged to address malaria in Africa, his “campaign documents are thin on the subject of global health,” according to the Lancet. Obama’s “campaign promotes proposals to confront HIV/AIDS globally and has a multiple page list of sweeping reforms in international development,” the Lancet reports. Experts do say that “both candidates support a more collaborative relationship with other countries, which could be a boon for global health generally,” according to the Lancet (Bristol, Lancet, 8/16).

Here are a few excerpts from the Lancet article that talk about HIV/AIDS specifically:

When asked by a reporter last year if he supported the spending of US tax dollars on contraceptives in Africa to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, John McCain, the Republican US presidential hopeful, seemed unsure and confused. “I haven’t thought about it before”, he said. “Before I give you an answer, let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayer money for it.” […]

Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign promotes proposals to confront HIV/AIDS globally and has a multiple page list of sweeping reforms in international development. “He is really reading the play book of many of the strongest voices in development and in global health”, Levine commented.

Obama supports and calls for changes in PEPFAR, including an additional $1 billion over 5 years to fight the epidemic in southeast Asia, India, and eastern Europe. He also calls for increasing the capacity of health systems to deliver HIV/AIDS treatment. In a move likely to cost him support among pharmaceutical manufacturers, Obama also pledges to “break the stranglehold that a few big drug and insurance companies have” on HIV/AIDS drugs. “Obama supports the rights of sovereign nations to access quality-assured low-cost generic medication to meet their pressing public health needs”, his campaign literature says.

Although supporting US bilateral HIV/AIDS efforts, Obama also advocates more US funding for multilateral programmes and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. US support for the Fund has been a partisan issue; some conservatives are concerned that the organisation does not reflect US policies on issues like sexual abstinence and needle exchange.

The full text of the article is available here on the Lancet website.  You have to register to get access to it, but registration is free.

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~ by h.e.g. on August 18, 2008.

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