WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he would nominate Dr. Eric Goosby as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, picking a former Clinton AIDS official to run one of President George W. Bush’s most successful programs.
As ambassador at large and global AIDS coordinator, Goosby would direct the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, and would be in charge of disbursing billions of dollars approved by Congress for AIDS relief overseas.
The program to fight AIDS overseas was often cited as one of Bush’s most important achievements. U.S. researchers said recently the program had cut AIDS deaths by 10 percent in targeted African countries, while failing to prevent the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
Groups involved in the fight against AIDS have been critical of Obama for what they said was his silence on the disease during his first months in office.
The Global AIDS Alliance welcomed the selection of Goosby but urged him to press the administration to fulfill a campaign pledge to double U.S. foreign assistance from $25 billion to at least $50 billion by the year 2012.
“The president’s FY10 (Fiscal Year 2010) budget request is well below what is required to keep that promise,” the group said in a statement.
Goosby “has a unique opportunity to hold the Obama administration accountable for its campaign promises to increase funding for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS overseas,” it said.
Goosby, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, is the chief executive and chief medical officer of the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit consulting group dedicated to fighting AIDS, the White House said.
He has over 25 years of experience working on HIV and AIDS issues, including helping countries like South Africa, Rwanda and China develop treatment plans, it said.
During President Bill Clinton’s administration, Goosby served as deputy director of the White House National AIDS Policy Office and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Goosby replaces Dr. Mark Dybul, a Bush appointee who came under fire from some groups who disagreed with the administration’s policy of supporting abstinence as a means of fighting the spread of AIDS.