Poor countries increase domestic funding for AIDS control programmes

Eighty-one countries increased their domestic investment for AIDS by over 50 per cent between 2006 and 2011

By Sonal Matharu
Published: Monday 23 July 2012

As funds for AIDS programmes from developed nations gradually dry up, middle- and low-income countries are rising to the challenge. Domestic investments by BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) for the disease have increased by almost 120 per cent between 2006 and 2011, according to a new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS or UNAIDS. These countries now fund, on average, more than 75 per cent of their domestic AIDS responses.

The report, titled 'Together we will end AIDS', was launched in the US ahead of the international AIDS conference that is being held in Washington DC between July 22 and July 27.

  • An estimated 34.2 million people in the world were living with HIV in 2011
  • In 2011, eight million people had access to life-saving treatment in low- and middle-income countries—an increase of 1.4 million over 2010
  • 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV;100, 000 fewer than the 2.6 million new infections in 2010
  • Since 2009, new infections in children have fallen by an estimated 24 per cent
  • Some 330 000 children were newly infected in 2011, almost half than at the peak of the epidemic in 2003 (570, 000) Globally, young women between 15 and 24 years of age remain the most vulnerable to HIV, and an estimated 1.2 million women and girls were newly infected with HIV in 2011
UNAIDS also found that more than 81 countries increased their domestic funds allocation for AIDS by over 50 per cent between 2006 and 2011. “Middle-and-low income countries invested US$ 8.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 11 per cent since 2010. However, international funding remained the same it was in 2008 at US$ 8.2 billion,” the report says.

Developed countries till recently were heavily dependent on the US, the UK and the Scandinavian countries for funds to fight the infectious disease. For example, till 2009, the Indian government's contribution to the HIV/AIDS programme was only 10 per cent. But with major donor countries stopping funds, the Indian government has committed to meet over 90 per cent of expenditure of the programme through domestic resources. Similarly, Brazil, Russia and China say that they will fully fund their AIDS programme in the coming years.

All’s not well

But despite an increase in domestic spendings, there is still a big shortfall in global funding for HIV, notes the report. By 2015, the estimated annual gap will be US$ 7 billion. “If funding from rich countries does not increase, it will be difficult to meet the 2015 goal of no new HIV/AIDS infections in children and keeping their mothers alive,” says Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. “It is not enough for international assistance to remain stable—it has to increase if we are to meet the 2015 goals,” adds Sidibé.  Funding from the US still accounts for nearly 48 per cent of all international assistance for AIDS.

Similar concerns are expressed by public health activists in India. They say that though the government has committed to increase funds for HIV programme, there may still be a gap in funds needed to successfully run the AIDS programme. “There may still be an overall shortage of funds which may lead to slow expansion of National Aids Control Programme,” says Narendra Gupta, secretary of non-profit Prayas.

He adds that it has not yet been established whether an increase in funds for HIV/AIDS will affect other public health programmes. The government of India is also planning merging some parts of the AIDS programme like safe blood transmission which are overlapping with other health programmes in the country with National Rural Health Mission. “This will save cost,” adds Gupta
The report also states progress of countries with regard to the 2015 target. It found that 56 countries had either stabilised or achieved significant declines in rates of new HIV infections till 2010. However, India still lies in the bracket of countries which may not achieve its target by 2015 as it could not reduce new infections in children below 20 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

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