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Ethiopian AIDS Research Center May Be Forced to Close Because of Withdrawal of Funding by Dutch Government

August 11, 2003

The Ethiopian-Netherlands AIDS Research Project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is facing closure after the Dutch government announced that it will withdraw its funding by December, researchers said yesterday, U.N. IRIN/ reports. The center, which focuses on physician training and HIV/AIDS basic science and epidemiological research, was established in 1994 and is currently supported by the Dutch government. ENARP is also involved in a pilot antiretroviral drug testing program and vaccine research in the country. According to Beate Gerlings of the Dutch Ministry for Development Cooperation, the government has decided to focus more on public health issues related to HIV/AIDS, such as poverty reduction, family planning and HIV prevention. "The targets that we felt were most important were not reached" through ENARP, Gerlings said, adding, "We felt there were better ways of spending our money to combat poverty in Ethiopia than supporting this program." Dr. Tshehaynesh Messele, head of ENARP, said, "I am really sad because we have everything in place. If [ENARP] is closed then it is going to have enormous negative effects on AIDS research in Ethiopia." She said that some of the center's highly trained staff are already leaving for more secure employment. Tshehaynesh added that the center has made "a major contribution" to understanding HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. "We hope we will find partners because we have the facilities and the expertise," she said (U.N. IRIN/, 8/7).

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