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AIDS prevention, care at risk

AIDS prevention, care at risk

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A 58-year-old, HIV-positive patient rests at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh in November last year. Photograph: Reuters

At least 80 civil society organisations and the National AIDS Authority met yesterday to discuss their concerns over a reduction in funding from donor countries for projects intended to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and to treat those already infected.

Although the Kingdom’s anti-AIDS efforts are considered a success story, recent cuts in donations – like a decision from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to issue no new grants until 2014 – are raising worries among NGOs that their attempts to educate, provide medicine, fight discrimination and stop transmission of the virus may suffer.

Dr Nuth Sokhom, chairman of the NAA, said that the reliance of NGOs on outside donors meant any reduction or suspension of funding would have an outsized effect.

“The reduction will affect prevention and care . . . because 80 per cent of the actions against HIV/AIDS rely on that funding,” he said.

Tim Vora, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee, said that more than 220 NGOs received funds from international institutions to fight the disease last year, but only 100 continue to receive aid since the Global Fund, one of the main international donors, suspended its aid.

“Of course it is a concern for the civil society organisations dealing with this sector,” he said. “The reduction of funding from international institutions to the NGO partners will affect all their project implementations.”

Tony Lisle, country director for UNAIDS, another large donor, told the Post that UN funding for anti-HIV/AIDS initiatives will “remain relatively stable” in 2012 and 2013, but given the global economic climate, the future is less certain.

“We’re maintaining the level of aid from last year, about $30 million to the national AIDS response,” he said. “Inevitably, there probably will be reductions in funding after 2013, but we can still be doing prevention, we can still achieve what we’re doing now with the same amount or a little less.”

According to Lisle, a renewed focus on prevention and spending the remaining aid money efficiently can prevent Cambodia from backsliding.

“We need to support and finance interventions that actually do avert new infections.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Yuthana at [email protected]

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