Q&A with Ambassador Deborah Birx: 'This White House is very responsive to data'

By Adva Saldinger 20 March 2017
Deborah Birx, ambassador-at-large and as United States global AIDS coordinator. Photo by: CDC Global / CC BY

While the top-line budget has been released by President Donald Trump’s administration, questions remain around how various foreign aid programs will fare. The budget stated that it “provides sufficient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,” but what exactly that means for funding levels is still up in the air.         

There are uncertainties about how funding and the reinstated “global gag rule,” could affect PEPFAR, which gets the majority of U.S. global health funding, and broader global health challenges.

From the few data points available so far, there are already things PEPFAR implementers should know now as they prepare. Crucially, the agency will rely on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s expertise, and most of PEPFAR’s programs are already in compliance.

Devex sat down with Ambassador Deborah Birx, the U.S. global aids coordinator, before the budget was released, to discuss the impacts of the reinstated global gag rule (also called the Mexico City policy), what PEPFAR implementers need to know about future priorities and the agency’s focus on prevention among girls. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.