Originally written by Mead Over for the Center for Global Development

The US government spends about $6.4 billion a year on preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the developing world, and 4.5 million AIDS patients depend mostly on US generosity each day for the AIDS medicines that keep them alive. The administration, and in particular Ambassador Eric  Goosby, the head of the President’s Emergency Program on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have a unique opportunity to make that money stretch farther and do more good, at very little cost to US taxpayers: release the reams of data that PEPFAR and its contractors have already collected, at substantial cost—perhaps as much as $500 million each year.  This would be a first step in what I hope will be 2013 drive to improve the efficiency, the quality and the accountability of the US’s most frequently praised foreign assistance program.

Background

Since January, 2011, I have served on two of the working groups of PEPFAR’s Scientific Advisory Board , those on data and key populations.    As I described in a previous post, Ambassador Goosby formally constituted this board in January, 2011 under the auspices of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and requested it to advise him and PEPFAR “concerning scientific, implementation and policy issues related to the global response to HIV/AIDS.”  [From the SAB’s charter.]  PEPFAR has recently posted the 22 presentations from the recent meeting as a downloadable 28 MB zip file.  For those who are following the progress of PEPFAR, the US’s most prominent, most frequently praised and most costly foreign assistance effort, these presentations provide a wealth of fascinating perspective, information, opinion and advise.  Because of the packed agenda, the SAB as a whole had little opportunity to review all of the material or to discuss each of the topics in the depth they deserved.  Hopefully many of the issues raised will receive a fuller discussion in the public arena, including on blogs such as this one.

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