Two leading health advocacy groups have announced their concern over the Bush administration’s nomination of Randall Tobias to lead the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to replace Andrew Natsios, a Massachusetts Republican. Advocates for Youth and the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) have both released statements highlighting Tobias’ troubling record from his time as head of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC). If he is confirmed by the Senate, Tobias will be in a position to dramatically influence the quality of life of women and children who depend on USAID.
Nominee Tobias has been widely criticized in the past for misstating statistical information and has claimed falsely that “[s]tatistics show that condoms really have not been very effective,” according to CHANGE. In his current position, Tobias has supported faith-based organizations that have been criticized as inept and that his work on HIV/AIDS prevention revolves around promoting abstinence and “secondary abstinence,” CHANGE reports.
Jodi Jacobson, executive director of CHANGE, stated, “Ambassador Tobias’ willingness to foster an ideological agenda under OGAC raises serious questions about his treatment of other sensitive issues that will fall within his purview at USAID, such as broader reproductive health and family planning programsÉHumanitarian aid programs should respond to the needs of people, not politicians.”