By Confidente Reporter
THE AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) has commended the donor community for its show of global solidarity through the unprecedented N$180 billion pledged to the Global Fund To Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) for the next three years during the Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment Conference, held in Montreal, Canada last weekend.
“We are encouraged by the increase in financial commitment from several African governments during this round of replenishment. We hope that this is a sign of their commitment to strengthening African health systems, which should also be reflected in their domestic health budgets with the aim of allocating at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improve the health sector as committed in the 2001 Abuja Declaration, adopted by African Union members states,” explained Michaela Clayton, ARASA director.
“Donor countries should also continue to work towards meeting the longstanding target of 0.7 percent of gross national income to Official Development Assistance (ODA) agreed by countries at the United Nations General Assembly in 1970.”
While pledges to the Global Fund are very close to the N$180 billion target set by the Global Fund for its next three-year cycle of funding, UNAIDS projects that N$364 billion is needed by 2020 to end AIDS and that a quarter of that should be invested in HIV prevention. According to UNAIDS, countries are currently investing as little as 10 percent on effective prevention interventions.
“The Global Fund should strengthen its efforts to ensure that these funds are channelled to support programming that is evidence- and rights-based. This includes supporting organisations led by women, people living with HIV and key populations such as sex workers, people who use drugs and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, who have a disproportionate HIV burden,” added Clayton.
“Key population-led organisations struggle to access funding under country grants from the Global Fund, despite these organisations being at the forefront of the HIV response and being best placed to implement interventions targeted at their communities.”
ARASA further cautions that funding alone is not enough to address HIV and TB in southern and east Africa as stigma, discrimination and state sponsored human rights violations against people most at risk of HIV continue unabated. Although research has confirmed that the protection and promotion of human rights contribute to reducing HIV and TB, the lack of political will, recently displayed through a ban on lubricant for HIV prevention in Tanzania, has contributed to a hostile environment for key populations and a resultant disproportionate HIV disease burden.
“The unprecedented pledge of US$ 12.9 billion (N$180 billion) provides an opportunity to truly contribute to a sustainable global HIV and TB response. However, in order to effectively address the epidemics, it is of the utmost importance that we ensure that we comprehensively invest in a human rights and evidence based response that ensures the meaningful inclusion of key population led organisations,” said Clayton.
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