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AIDS authority urges state to up funding

Cambodia must raise US$238 million to combat HIV/AIDS between 2011 and 2015, an official at the National AIDS Authority said yesterday.

At a conference at the Cambodiana Hotel commemorating World AIDS Day, NAA Secretary General Teng Kunthy said the Kingdom’s effort against the global epidemic would cost $510 million.

Based on estimates drawn from the national budget, passed on Friday by the National Assembly, and commitments from development partners, Teng Kunthy said Cambodia has secured $272 million.

But, he said “to fit with the plan, we are lacking about $238 million.”

Teng Kunthy said the NAA would prioritise three areas, including efforts to review past work with those most vulnerable to HIV infection, continue monitoring and researching HIV prevalence and focus on local education.

“These are strategies we’ll consider in the days ahead,” he said.

Dr Oum Sopheap, executive director of the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance KHANA, said he anticipated an increase in annual spending to about $60 million on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He urged the Cambodian government and NGOs to pick up more of the tab, adding that the reliance on outside donors for 90 percent of HIV/AIDS funding may no longer be tenable.

“I think that in the next few years, the donors will not be able to give as they used to. So, what we can do is find out a new strategy to guarantee the funding without depending [so much on donations from the international community],” he said.       

According to the latest data from UNAIDS, the adult HIV prevalence in Cambodia fell to 0.5 percent last year, down from 1.2 percent in 2001.

But various groups face much higher rates of infection, including injecting drug users (24.4 percent), sex workers (14.7 percent) and men who have sex with men (5.1 percent), according to UNAIDS country director Tony Lisle.

In an interview with the Post last week, Lisle also warned of upcoming constraints on funding.

“The level of resources that were enjoyed in previous years may not be available in the years ahead”, he said.

“One of the challenges in Cambodia is to reassess resources that are available and target them – to look to low-cost, high-impact interventions and ensure at the same time the quality of those interventions,” he said.

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