Friday, May 29, 2009

AIDS fighting funds slashed across African continent

The global recession has had bad effects on funding the fight against AIDS. Governments across the African continent are slashing their budgets to fight the disease. Meanwhile, NGO's are in the same trouble with cash. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently announced a 4 billion dollar shortfall.

From Black Star News, writer Sifelani Tsiko gives this round up of some of the cutbacks.

Tanzania was the first sub-Saharan country to announce a 25% slash of its annual HIV/Aids budget. Health experts say this will have a significant impact on human resources in the sector and on health service delivery in this East African country.

They further say that long-term health planning will become completely unpredictable as funding dwindles for most HIV/Aids programs on the continent.

The global financial crisis has forced commodity prices to nose-dive dealing major blow to agriculture and mining-based African economies which had registered some positive growth in export revenue over the last few years. Mining companies in mineral dependent economies in Africa are scaling down operations resulting in massive retrenchments and lay–offs.

Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe were some of the hardest hit countries in the southern Africa region. These countries have registered significant cuts in their export receipts severely affecting revenue flows for the governments and expenditure on HIV/Aids programs.

Even the large mining companies are scaling down expenditure on HIV prevention programs, affecting thousands of employees and their families. The Botswana government announced recently that it will not be able to include new patients in its free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment program from 2016 onwards, because it doesn't have sufficient funds to expand the program.

In Zambia, the situation is dire with the large copper mining companies making massive cuts on HIV spending as the companies lay off thousands of workers due to the global financial turmoil engulfing Western countries which are the main drivers of commodity prices since they are the substantial consumers.

Zimbabwe’s economic problems in the past few years have led to the deterioration of the country’s health care systems. Most HIV patients are still having problems in accessing HIV drugs; if when drugs become available, purchasing choices are stark: medication or food?

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