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PEPFAR Benefits Go Beyond Health

Washington, D.C.– The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) began as a program to reduce HIV in Africa and 15 years later shows a positive impact beyond health, including on U.S. foreign policy and national security, according to a new Bipartisan Policy Center report.

The program shows the value of so-called “strategic health diplomacy”: tackling health issues in poverty-stricken countries can lead to more stable societies, improve public opinion toward the U.S., and help achieve other U.S. national security and diplomatic objectives.

“Together, these broader effects, along with the health impacts of PEPFAR, derive mutual benefit for U.S. foreign policy and security objectives in our partner countries,” Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader and BPC co-founder, said.

The new report, Building Prosperity, Stability, and Security Through Strategic Health Diplomacy: A Study of 15 Years of PEPFAR, finds that countries with higher PEPFAR investment have had greater growth in worker productivity and economic development than other countries. Analysis also shows positive associations between PEPFAR investment and improvement in government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and rule of law. Interviews with 15 current and former U.S. ambassadors also revealed that PEPFAR has enabled much greater U.S. engagement in partner countries and strengthened relationships.

The report also explores PEPFAR’s role in the response to the 2014 Ebola outbreaks. The program played a critical role in building the foundation for early epidemic outbreak response.

“This examination of the wide-ranging impacts of PEPFAR has again demonstrated that U.S. investment in this vital program not only benefits the countries it serves, but also addresses some key U.S. foreign policy goals,” Bill Frist, M.D., former Senate majority leader and BPC senior fellow, said.

Daschle and Frist strongly encourage policymakers to renew funding for PEPFAR and look at additional opportunities to engage in strategic health diplomacy to secure U.S. interests across the globe.