A Roundtable Discussion with U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State


Caption 1: From L to R: Cherine Yassien, Medtronic, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Department of State, Florizelle Liser, CCA, Morayor Essieh, CCA Caption 2: A cross section of delegates at the health working group meeting

On Monday, February 4, 2020, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted “A Roundtable Discussion with Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State” at their 17th street office location. CCA CEO and President, Florizelle Liser, gave the welcome remarks followed by opening remarks from Cherine Yassien, Principal, International Relations – EMEA and LATAM, Medtronic, Inc. Co-Chair CCA Health Working Group.

Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State kicked off her presentation by outlining the work that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) does. PEPFAR is a U.S. government initiative seeking to decrease the absolute number of new HIV/AIDS infections by over 50% through the continuous improvement of program implementation at scale. PEPFAR ensures the implementation of the World Health Organization’s health policies at the on-site level which allows them to immediately address structural barriers to the implementation of preventative efforts.

Ambassador Birx highlighted the importance of political leadership in African countries in ensuring that their policies will allow money to translate into action. She then acclaimed Namibia’s success in treating and diagnosing HIV through political will and the use of data.

The PEPFAR platform drives health improvements by providing guidance through leadership, making program data reliable, ensuring communities are at the forefront of planning and implementation, and defining actual cost spent. Three of PEPFAR’s key goals for 2020 are to sustain the gains in countries that have achieved control of the disease, help countries that don’t have control achieve it, and address the rising new infections in key population epidemics around the world.

In their effort towards HIV/AIDS prevention, PEPFAR has invested $4 billion in male HIV/AIDS prevention and $1 billion on women HIV/AIDS prevention. PEPFAR is also a partner in The DREAMS Partnership Program which addresses the needs of young women through market segmentation. As of 2019, DREAMS has reached 1.5 million adolescent girls and young women with critical comprehensive HIV prevention.

During the Q&A, Birx acknowledged that there are coalitions of African governments willing to segment their needs and start outsourcing. She advised that this should be done through finding local logistical chains and letting them move product from here-to-there.

Birx concluded her presentation by informing the audience of the importance of what PEPFAR does in accessing data, having the ability to develop client-centered approaches, finding fraud and corruption, and identifying collective successes and failures.