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Donors likely to cut down on HIV and Aids funds

By - | Published Thu, April 4th 2013 at 00:00, Updated April 3rd 2013 at 22:29 GMT +3

By LONAH KIBET

Uncertainty looms over the future of donor funding of the fight against HIV and Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis.

The move is likely to have a major impact on the millions who are affected.

The red flag was raised during the start of a two-day health conference that has brought together participants from several African countries at a Nairobi hotel where various civil society groups were informed of the depressing news.

“There are concerns around scale-up, open and interactive processes, broader community engagement, and sustainability of President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) among others,” said Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (Kanco) executive director Allan Ragi said.

Speaking to the Press during the conference Ragi said cuts from the major donor would affect the work input in the fight against HIV and Aids and other diseases in Africa.

“We need then to continue and add to the current levels of funding. We cannot afford for it to go down, we cannot afford for it to level up because we need to sustain the ones we have put on treatment. We also need to introduce new innovative programmes like prevention strategies,” he stressed.

There have been fears that PepfarFAR is likely to cut down in most countries.

Treated nets

A combined force of Pepfar and Global Fund has supported more than 80 per cent of the HIV programmes in Africa so far.

In 2012 alone Pepfar supported 5.1 million people living with HIV and Aids with antiretroviral treatment.

It has facilitated HIV testing and counselling of more than 46.5 million people besides providing 750,000 women with antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission and by so doing enabling 230,000 infants to be born HIV-free.

Meanwhile, since its establishment in 2002 the Global Fund has supported more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries providing Aids treatment for 4.2 million people as well as availing anti-tuberculosis treatment to 9.7 million people.

Moreover the fund has distributed 310 million insecticide-treated nets towards malaria prevention.

The devastating effects would cause untold suffering to majority of people who depend on antiretroviral drugs as well as those suffering from the other diseases.

Pepfar has been increasing its contribution from 2004, to Kenya, which was identified as one of the most severely affected and assigned the majority of the funding.

The forum will also look at issues of concern GFATM on guaranteeing the role of the national governments, risk of important community issues being lost in fund allocation process, equity in fund allocation and competition and salient funding strategies to ensure non- disruption of services in the fund.

The concerns prompted organisations led by Kanco together with Aids Healthcare Foundation to organise a high level advocacy with key development partners, and donors with the goal to chart the way forward in ensuring sustained progress in achieving health targets for Africa region. Yesterday Ragi noted that 75 per cent of the Kenyan fund comes from donors and it would be a big blow to the fight against the three diseases if the funds were to be stopped or reduced.

He said as much as the government cannot provide sufficient funds they should also put in a certain amount of money to reduce the demands and hence dedicate the money from the international donor community to the critical cases.

“The money we shall be receiving shall then be dedicated to those who must have the money. It is also important to engage with the international community to ensures there is increased funding to help us in this fight,” he said.

Ragi said there has been a significant increase in the number of people who are currently on treatment because of the funds.

“You know how far we have come, from 2,000 people about 600,000 people. If we don’t continue the treatment that means our other brothers have to die,” Ragi said.

AHF country director Stephen Karau said east and southern Africa are losing about 800,000 people a year from the statistics in the meeting.

He said as much as Kenya was dependent on the donors the Government also needed to chip in.