Cuts in International AIDS Funding Risk Lives in Africa
June 4th, 2010
As international donors in HIV/AIDS funding, the U.S., World Bank, UNITAID, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, retreat from funding HIV and AIDS programs, years of progress in HIV treatment in Africa are being threatened. The lives of HIV-positive people are increasingly on the line, according to a new report by the international Non Governmental Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The report, No time to quit: HIV/AIDS Treatment Gap Widening in Africa looks at eight sub-Saharan countries. It shows how major international funding institutions such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), World Bank Treatment Acceleration Project , UNITAID, and donors to the Global Fund, decided to cap, reduce or withdraw their spending on HIV treatment over the past year and a half.
Donors are disengaging from the fight against HIV/AIDS leaving behind millions who are still in dire need of treatment in hard-hit Sub-Saharan African countries, warned Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of all HIV positive people worldwide. In 2008, nearly three-quarters of all HIV/AIDS deaths worldwide occurred in this region and HIV prevalence rates in southern Africa countries have exceeded 20 percent.
The report says one of the largest HIV treatment funders, the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has effectively been flat-lined for 2009 and 2010 with similar proposals for the following years. MSF said PEPFAR aims to pass on the responsibility of direct funding treatment for patients to countries whenever possible. The MSF report also says that that other donors like UNITAID and the World Bank have also announced reductions in the coming years in funding for AIDS drugs in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Missionary Oblates JPIC office will continue to advocate by asking international donors not to walk away from their funding commitment and continue to call on the U.S. government to do its share. The backtracking comes despite international donors’ initial promises to fund all AIDS treatment programs. This situation will force many community health practitioners in Africa to have to tell patients receiving treatment that they would not continue their lifesaving treatment and may refuse to enroll new patients. This is a moral betrayal to millions of individuals and families affected by AIDS. Cutting funding will also affect achieving universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment by the end of 2010. Therefore it is important that international donors, especially those who will participate in the upcoming 2010 G8/20 Summit in Canada on June 25-27, make a new commitment and prioritize funding AIDS treatments in Sub Saharan Africa.