Shot in the arm for health funding

Shot in the arm for health funding

CAMBODIANS suffering HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will benefit from a three-year commitment to UNITAID, the United Nations organisation set up to purchase drugs to combat the diseases, of US$150 million a year by France, according to France’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

The multi-year pledge – the first since UNITAID was founded in 2006 – was made possible because of a €4 (US$5.44) levy on international economy-class flights from France.

The tax, which has been collected since 2006, has been well accepted by the public and did not have any impact on tourism, the ministry said. And it raised 172. €9 million (US$235.16 million) in 2008 towards aid for people living in the world’s poorest countries, including Cambodia.

UNITAID funds long-term programmes to promote access to health products (treatments, diagnostic tests and prevention tools) to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. African countries are the main beneficiaries of UNITAID, as 85 percent of funding targets low-income countries. The body funds programmes in 27 Asian countries.

In four years it has funded antiretroviral treatment for more than 800,000 patients, distributed anti-malarial treatment for more than 18 million people and anti-tuberculosis treatment to 1.5 million people.

France, which provides 60 percent of UNITAID’s funding, urged “all potential donors throughout the world to start implementing this innovative financing mechanism in order to make further progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis”.

Several other donor countries, such as Korea, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Norway, have also confirmed their support for UNITAID.

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