Africa is expected to step up in the fight against HIV/AIDS amid dropping global fund

(Befekadu Beyene) It’s learned from the colorful opening of ICASA 2011 here in Addis, that 25 African countries are showing significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Yet, Africa needs to step up in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It’s mandatory for the continent to treat more of those infected or HIV will spread more rapidly.  Amid the need of intensification of the fight against HIV/AIDS the necessary funds doesn’t seem to be available anymore.

A picture from the campaigners T-Shirt

Against the backdrop of a Global financial crisis, many government donor agencies and international donors are reviewing their financial commitment to funding Health and HIV on the African continent. An annual funding analysis released by UNAIDS and the Kaiser Family Foundation  found that international funding for AIDS programmes in developing countries has dropped by 10% in 2010. Many African countries are facing the real threat of not meeting their budget requirements for implementing the much needed scale up of ART programmes, relying heavily on the Global Fund and PEPFAR to sustain these programmes.

Just few days before the Global Fund (the largest financier in the combat against HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB) announced it will be giving no new grants till 2014 due to having insufficient funds as a result of the Euro zone financial crisis. The Fund says it can only afford to keep existing AIDS programs going, but will not expand its services or add new patients. 

According to AP the [Global] fund has $4 billion on hand to meet all of its current commitments and the “presumption” is that people inChina,Brazil,Mexico and Russia won’t suffer because their governments will commit their own resources to take over the next phase of the fund’s programs, said Dr. Christoph Benn, the fund’s external relations manager.”

But, What about AFRICA?

As funding limits treatment to new patients, those who can not access treatment will remain not only in vulnerable health condition themselves, but will be at a much greater risk to spread the disease to others. Ultimately, the spread of the disease will pick up pace. Education, treatment and prevention strategies are essential to preventing the transmission and to curbing the prevalence of the epidemic, particularly in Africa where the risks can be catastrophic. Hence Africa needs to mobilize its own fund for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Accordingly, a new HIV/AIDS & HEALTH FUNDING CAMPAIGN started to put pressure on African governments to step up in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Dozens of HIV/AIDS organizations working in Africa have signed on to this campaign which urges African governments to step-up in the fight against the disease and in promoting a health-agenda for Africans.

The campaign comprised of nearly 50 HIV/AIDS organizations working in Africa, states while HIV/AIDS continues to spread around Africa (HIV/AIDS rates on the African continent are 250% of the global rate of all other continents combined), killing thousands of Africans a day, with the disease infecting as many as one in four people in some sub-Saharan countries, funding to combat the disease is shockingly on the decline.

One of the major ideas the campaign is pushing for is a financial transaction tax (FTT) – the revenue which governments would dedicate to health in their respective countries.

"Where is the money?" March Photo; Czerina Patel

FTT is a tax that is charged to financial institutions on financial transactions involving derivatives, bonds, currency transactions, real estate, insurance and credit transactions. Some experts estimate that taxing of financial transactions, even at very low levels (0.005% -0.05%), could generate an annual amount close to 400 billion US dollars.

“The Abuja Declaration adopted in April 2001 by African leaders declared the response to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other related infections as the highest priority issue in their respective national development plans, committing 15% of their national budgetary allocations to health.” Now, 10 years down the line only a handful of countries have achieved this target, with the regional average remaining at 7%, claims the campaigners.  And even then this regional average is largely influenced by international donor funding; and not domestic resources.

The campaigners are running a petition to be handed over to African governments.

Dear readers of my blog, you may sign the petition using the link below.



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