Experts: Africa Countries Lose Out on AIDS Funding
Experts at Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that African nations are not receiving adequate HIV/AIDS international funding. In a statement released in Johannesburg ahead of the 19th International AIDS Conference, DWB said African countries worst affected by the pandemic were the least able to provide "the best science" available to fight it. For example, Congo is only able to supply antiretroviral drugs to 15 percent of people who need them and "patients are literally dying on our doorstep."
According to DWB, African countries are increasingly being urged to find their own AIDS solutions. "This is just a cynical excuse for donors to scale back on their earlier commitments of putting an end to this disease. It will have catastrophic consequences for patients," said Dr. Eric Goemaere, DWB's senior regional adviser for southern Africa.
The latest UNAIDS study reports that international AIDS funding was about $8 billion in 2008 and has not increased significantly since, forcing some developing nations to increase their own spending for existing programs.
Despite these concerns, progress is being made in the region. On Thursday, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi credited drug treatment with a decline in cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission. In the country, 32 percent of live births are HIV-exposed, and it is estimated that 30 percent of HIV-exposed babies would be infected without drug treatment. According to DWB, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe also have seen progress.
Stuart Chuka, an official of the Malawi health ministry said Thursday, "Just as success is within reach, we're up against a great financial squeeze. I truly believe we can end AIDS. But we can't do it alone." Thierry Dethier, a DWB official in the Congo, added that only one-tenth of health facilities in that country offer AIDS treatment.