Through the summer, talk circulated that Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby was preparing to move on – and today we’re hearing that his departure date is set for as early as Oct. 26.
After four years of leading the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and its President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief with an unprecedented acceleration of treatment roll out, scale up of evidence-based action, and efforts to reach those hardest hit by the epidemic, Goosby will leave a lasting and significant legacy, HIV response advocates say. They are urging that his replacement be named swiftly to ensure work that has expanded in scope and ambition under his watch continues uninterrupted.
In September 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over Goosby’s swearing in, as he assumed the office of Global AIDS Coordinator vacated nearly nine months earlier by former Ambassador Mark Dybul. Goosby took office as PEPFAR was both picking up the pace of its work, and changing its mission from an emergency response, to a sustainable effort to build partnerships and strengthened health systems that could continue to tackle the impact of HIV globally. He also took office in the midst of a global economic crisis that challenged plans to reach more people, more quickly and more effectively with care, prevention and treatment.
All the same, with strategies that included cost-effectiveness studies, implementation science, and the first Scientific Advisory Board to guide PEPFAR, efforts under Goosby saw the realization of a “tipping point” in some of the countries receiving PEPFAR services, near universal treatment coverage in more, and talk for the first time of “an AIDS-free Generation.” His tenure ushered in the first PEPFAR guidances for reaching men who have sex with men and injecting drug users with services; the first guidances for PEPFAR country teams to work with civil society organizations, and focused attention on HIV-TB coinfection.
Last year, on the eve of World AIDS DAY, with Ambassador Goosby at her side, Sec. Clinton introduced the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that laid out “roadmaps” — quantifiable and measurable actions — for expanding treatment and prevention interventions, reaching populations of greatest risk, promoting sustainability, creating a shared response, and using science to guide the efforts.
Today, advocates responded to word of Ambassador Goosby’s departure date with concern.
“We’re hoping they name someone before he departs and have someone in place by World AIDS Day, so there’s no gap in leadership at this critical time,” said Dr. Paul Zeitz, vice president of Endgame, a global campaign to defeat AIDS, TB and Malaria.
“Ambassador Goosby has driven forward great progress at PEPFAR,” Chris Collins, of amfAR, said. “We need his replacement in place without delay, to continue his momentum in scaling up effective interventions.”