Guest blog: Problem-solving spirit

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This is a guest blog post by Tom Walsh, who is the acting deputy global AIDS coordinator and PEPFAR’s chief of staff. Editor’s note: He wrote the guest blog on his Blackberry, which should explain some of his use of symbols in the text.

Tom Walsh wrote this guest blog. He is the acting deputy US global AIDS coordinator and PEPFAR chief of staff.

Tom Walsh wrote this guest blog. He is the acting deputy US global AIDS coordinator and PEPFAR chief of staff.

Well, John asked me to be personal, so I’m going to start by expressing a personal, not-the-official-policy-of-the-Government-of-the-United-States-of-America view that this blog is fantastic! Truly the next best thing to being here.

This is the 5th Implementers’ Meeting PEPFAR has organized with its co-sponsor partners, & I’ve been fortunate to attend all 5. Each has been great, but right now, this feels like the best one yet. Starting with the superficial: laid-back Windhoek fosters a relaxed, positive vibe, & our hosts are very warm. (The winter weather, not so much – beautiful during the day but chilly at night in the mile-high desert!) Of more import, I’m encouraged to see the presentations by implementers get stronger each year – and to see more presenters from developing countries (even many of the U.S. Government presenters are locally-employed staff).

As John & others have reported, there is clear concern about programs’ future as the economic crisis deepens. I have to say the discussions have been sobering. Yet I sense a problem-solving spirit, & determination on implementers’ part to focus on the things they _can_ control – making programs as effective & efficient as they can possibly be. People know in this environment, with this disease, wasted money & ineffective programs cost lives, & the AIDS Memorial Quilts here on site powerfully remind us all of our responsibility.

  • But there’s also celebration here of the successes in the fight. For a ‘desk jockey’ like me, it’s inspiring to spend time with the amazing program implementers who do this hard work each day. The American people are privileged to support many of them, & I wish everyone reading this could be here in Windhoek to be challenged & inspired along with us!
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