Without Peter's work, there would be no PEPFAR.
This was how Ambassador Mark Dybul (PDF), former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, introduced Uganda's Peter Mugyenyi, MD, before remarks at Georgetown University yesterday.
Amb. Dybul called Dr. Mugyenyi a true hero, whose successful pioneering efforts to bring antiretroviral treatment to sub-Saharan Africa had been key to the Bush Administration's decision to go forward with the massive AIDS relief initiative in 2003.
Dr. Mugyenyi, who leads Uganda's Joint Clinical Research Centre, is an advisor to PHR and is in DC this week for a series of meetings and speaking engagements to raise awareness about funding shortages that are severely limiting access to HIV treatments in Uganda.
In his own remarks, Dr. Mugyenyi acknowledged Amb. Duybal's work leading (PEPFAR), stating that history would record his tremendous contribution to the African continent.
Dr. Mugyenyi also highlighted the tremendous HIV burden among the young women of Africa and urged the integration of HIV prevention and care everywhere that they seek care and social services, including family planning clinics. In response to a question about the still high rates of transmission from women to their babies, he noted that most programs aimed at preventing these transmissions are located in towns and urban areas, far away from rural women who need access to the programs.
Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, Executive Director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre in Uganda and PHR advisor, speaks with Congressman Payne from New Jersey
Dr. Mugyenyi's remarks came in the middle of another day of meetings on Capitol Hill, including a meeting with Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), who serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health for the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Dr. Mugyenyi explained the challenges that Uganda and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa are facing due to the budget uncertainty surrounding global AIDS funding. Payne, who was unaware of the challenges on the ground, committed to further investigating the issue after hearing Dr. Mugyenyi's concerns.Today and tomorrow it's back to Capitol Hill and then to the White House for a meeting with representatives of the Obama Administration.
It is a very busy schedule and in the midst of all of the running around, it is sometimes easy to forget all that Dr. Mugyenyi has seen and accomplished over the past two decades. Whenever we ask if he wants to take a break or slow down, he reminds us of the emergency his patients are facing on the ground. He is willing to go wherever he needs and meet with whomever he can to carry that message.