The William J. Clinton Foundation operates following a simple question the President himself posed: “Are people better off now than when we started?” From their collaborative efforts through the Clinton Global Initiative, which recently concluded its annual meeting in New York City, to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which fights childhood obesity in America, the former president is anything but complacent in his efforts to continue improving the lives of people around the world. The Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, CHAI, is no exception.
CHAI, which provides medications to “nearly half of all people living with HIV and on treatment in developing countries,” will now be providing technical and program support to Haiti’s government in its work to reduce the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS on its population. Clinton, together with Haitian President Rene Preval, signed the agreement for this effort yesterday, October 1st, and expressed his hopes for the success of the program:
My Foundation’s global AIDS work began in the Bahamas, the setting for one of the great success stories in the fight against HIV/AIDS… I am confident that by using the same approach that is currently helping 2 million people access lifesaving treatment around the world, we can achieve the same success in Haiti. I look forward to working alongside the government of Haiti to strengthen health systems and save more lives.
CHAI’s work focuses on solidifying agreements guaranteeing that treatment medications and diagnostics are accessible to over 70 countries at affordable prices, and CHAI teams work in these countries to ensure delivery of treatments to people living with HIV/AIDS. Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, has an extremely high rate of HIV infection, and a multitude of structural and cultural barriers to reducing infection, which CHAI hopes to work to reduce. For example, fewer than half of Haitian mothers deliver their infants in a clinical setting, which increases the risk for transmission of HIV from mother-to-child. Given the infection rate of 2.2% of the Haitian population, CHAI faces a great challenge in treatment and delivery.
There is, however, enormous potential for opportunity: given CHAI’s success in acquiring medication cost agreements, and the incredible success of its on-the-ground teams, there is much reason to believe that CHAI will be successful. If they are able to greatly reduce the rate of HIV infection and place those with HIV on treatment programs, it will be a significant step toward alleviating much of the suffering in Haiti due to AIDS.
-Until There’s A Cure