Global Fund warns of HIV cash crunch

July 20, 2010 12:00 am

, VIENNA, Austria, Jul 20 – The Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria has warned that it risks not meeting country requests especially on treatment of Paediatric HIV/AIDS due to a possible funding shortfall.

The G8 countries are expected to replenish their grants for the next three years in October but there are fears that with the global economic crisis, the donor countries might fail to make strong pledges.

"And that will be a disaster," said Global fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine.

"We have the science, a strong call from the civil society and the communities so if we were to have the political commitment and the resources then by 2015 no child should be born with HIV," Dr Kazatchkine added.

He said the fund which is the main multilateral financier for paediatric HIV and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission would be constrained financially.

Speaking to Capital News at the ongoing International Aids Conference in Vienna, Dr Kazatchkine said Kenya had to clean up its act if it is to benefit from round 10 of the funds.

Kenya recently missed out on round eight and nine due to what the Global Fund described as failure by the two ministries of health to properly coordinate the management of resources.

"The credibility of the Global Fund when we go to the donors is to say we are only funding the very best programs so that if you (donor) invest your funds in that you will have 90 percent chances of reaching your objectives," he said.

"Unfortunately, Kenya didn\’t make it in those two rounds, round 10 is open and I have met with Minister (Beth) Mugo (Public Health) and I do cross my fingers and hope Kenya will get it," the Global Fund boss said.

The fund disbursed about $2.5 billion (Sh204 billion) in both round eight and nine.

Meanwhile, Kenya was lauded at the ongoing International Conference as one of the few countries that had scaled up circumcision as a measure to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Kenya had managed to circumcise about 36,000 men in a single month last year which he described as phenomenal.

"It cost about 1.4 million dollars (Sh114.5 million). If these men had not been circumcised and later some of them became infected with HIV at the prevalence rate for uncircumcised males in that country, treating them would have cost the government over ten times as much," Mr Gates explained.

"It\’s an astonishing return but it\’s not just about the money it\’s about all those lives and what they mean in that country," he added.

Addressing participants at the conference, Mr Gates said prevention efforts like male circumcision were cheap, effective and easy to apply and so should be replicated across the board.

"Male circumcision is an amazing advance in prevention and in the four years since we learnt about its benefits, only about 150,000 men in Sub-Saharan Africa have been circumcised out of 41 million who would benefit from it."

According to the World Health Organisation, male circumcision reduces the chances of HIV transmission in men by 60 percent.

He however said many prevention methods were not targeting the groups where transmission was high and cited a UNAIDS report published this year which indicated that 10 percent of HIV in Kenya was due to sex between men.

"In some coastal regions, it is likely to be as high as 20 percent yet most districts in the country have no prevention programs for these men," he said.

Kenya Medical Association National Chairman, Dr Andrew Juma Suleh told Capital News that there was need to integrate the sexual minority in national programs to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in these groups.

"What is sad is that for the Men having Sex with Men (MSM), a significant proportion of them are married to women so if we don\’t offer preventative services to these people the effect will be bad," Dr Suleh said.

He added that between 40 and 60 percent of the sexual minorities were living with HIV hence the need to address the issue.

"I am not advocating for their legalisation but these issues need to be confronted head-on through programs that address their special needs," he said.

The reasons it may have taken Kenya long to come up with these policies is because this is not a very common method of sexual orientation in Kenya. There are issues of religion, morals and culture.

In Kenya, the main mode of HIV transmission is heterosexual intercourse which accounts for over 90 percent of the cases.

"In this conference, majority of papers are dominated by rights issues, rights of the sexual minorities and we have papers that are showing evidence that by offering prevention and treating these vulnerable groups you can significantly reduce the rate of HIV infection," he noted.


Latest Articles

Most Viewed