Yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly meeting when Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the fourth replenishment meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria will be held in Washington, DC in December, he also announced that the U.S. will enter into new country ownership partnership agreements with Namibia, South Africa, and Rwanda.
President Pohamba from Namibia, President Paul Kagame from Rwanda, and Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool from South Africa joined Secretary Kerry to announce that the new agreements will build on existing partnership frameworks, and will allow for a shift to shared and joint decision-making about PEPFAR funding allocations between the U.S. and the three partner countries.
The shift to country ownership will happen on a country-specific basis to ensure that PEPFAR is responsive to local needs, and will allow for mutual accountability, shared responsibility, and financial transparency, said Kerry. The new agreements will give the three countries a stronger decision-making role.
“U.S. programs, I think it’s fair to say, are still absolutely critical. But now, wherever possible, those programs are going to support countries’ own initiatives against this epidemic, and that’s what’s really exciting about it,” said Kerry. “That’s, frankly, exactly what our foreign assistance is supposed to do, is to help other countries to be able to take the reins and empower them to be able to confront challenges like HIV and AIDS themselves.”
The new agreements – which are yet to be drafted – will not affect currently existing congressional mandates on programming and funding, and are meant to place the partner governments in a stronger decision-making role and strengthen their understanding and response to the HIV epidemic in their respective countries.
PEPFAR officials have indicated that the partner governments are encouraged by and pleased with the formal agreements and view them as a natural evolution in their partnership with the U.S., and a step in the right direction.