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A Cambodian health official takes a blood sample from a villager during a screening for HIV in Kandal province in February last year. AFP

Kingdom asked to up AIDS fund

Cambodia has been asked to more than double its yearly contribution toward the fight against HIV/AIDS to at least $3.2 million in each of the next three years, an official from the National AIDS Authority said yesterday.

Tia Phalla, vice chair of the National AIDS Authority (NAA), said international financing organisation Global Fund asked the Cambodian government to increase its contribution, which currently stands at $1.5 million.

Phalla remained optimistic that the government would bump the funding and said that Ieng Mouly, the chair of the NAA, has already requested $4 million annually for the HIV/AIDS programme.

“It’s a requirement for the government to contribute,” he said. In order to receive $41.6 million from the Global Fund over the next three years, the government will need to increase its contributions.

Global Fund spokesman Seth Faison said the organisation has a co-financing requirement, in which a portion of funding is withheld until governments contribute, a policy that is intended to incentivise domestic investments in health.

According to Phalla, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has already committed to providing an additional $470,000 for contract workers in 2018.

Funding for the national programme helps to cover antiretrovirals, medication to slow the progression of HIV.

Cambodia has been successful in bringing HIV rates down significantly, and it has one of the highest treatment coverage rates in the region. As of last year, there were an estimated 72,000 people who were HIV positive, and some 75 percent of them had access to treatment.

“It’s the right of the people to have the life-saving drugs,” Phalla said. “We intend to save the lives of people, and we will try to do our best by using money more efficiently.”

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