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International News

Africa: Global Financial Crisis Leads to HIV Budget Cuts

May 20, 2009

African AIDS activists are lobbying heads of state and international aid organizations not to renege on commitments to expand and improve access to HIV treatment and care during the global financial crisis. In 2001, African leaders committed to setting aside 15 percent of national budgets to address health issues.

Tanzania has already announced a 25 percent cut to its annual HIV/AIDS budget. "This will have a significant impact on human resources in the sector and on health service delivery," said Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) in Namibia. "Long-term health planning will become completely unpredictable."

South Africa's government has warned that private firms are likely to cut HIV prevention programs covering thousands of employees and their families. Botswana will stop taking new AIDS patients into its antiretroviral treatment program beginning in 2016, due to insufficient funds for program expansion, said Jeff Ramsay, a Botswana presidential spokesperson.

"Very few countries have met [the 15 percent] goal," Akugizibwe said. "The money is there. It's all about prioritization of resources. The situation is very frightening, because governments cut back on already insufficient HIV treatment and care programs."

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is at least $4 billion short of needed funds for essential services in 2010, and the regional implementation of the Global Plan to Stop TB lacks $10.7 billion. Most countries have little to fall back on amid a decline in international aid, according to the World Bank.

"Broken promises and skewed priorities of governments and donors have reduced the right to health and access to treatment to unattainable rhetoric," said Nonkosi Khumalo of the South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, which is jointly lobbying with ARASA and the Kenyan Collaborative Fund for HIV Treatment Preparedness.

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
05.18.2009; Kristin Palitza

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on International Efforts to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa