Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français Português free subscription IRIN Site Map RSS find PlusNews on facebook follow PlusNews on twitter
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Wednesday 16 June 2010
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Most read 
Print report Bookmark and Share
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Same problems, less funding

Photo: Laura Lopez Gonzalez/IRIN
Long walks, long waits for treatment
JOHANNESBURG, 4 May 2010 (PlusNews) - Without adequate funding, barriers to HIV treatment are likely to remain unchanged in spite of growing demand, a new report has warned.

A new report by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) looked at national HIV programmes in Malawi and Swaziland as part of a six-country focus that spanned Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The ITPC, an international treatment lobby group, noted in its report, Rationing Funds, Risking Lives: World backtracks on HIV treatment, that poor health infrastructure, high costs and staff shortages have kept HIV treatment uptake low in Malawi and Swaziland.

In addition, antiretroviral (ARV) programmes in the two countries have been compromised by lower levels of international funding.

In both countries people living with HIV had to travel long distances, often followed by long waiting times once they got to the clinic, due to the uneven distribution of health centres and staff shortages. Shortages of ARV drugs reflected "early warning signs of the negative impact of the global backtracking on AIDS commitment and funding", the ITPC commented.

Malawi has an HIV prevalence rate of about 12 percent; according to UNAIDS more than 90 percent of its HIV response is donor-funded. ARVs are free in the public sector, but the report pointed out that transport costs for trips - sometimes up to 35km - often made obtaining the drugs unaffordable.

The country began training its own doctors and nurses about 30 years ago; it has an estimated shortfall of 160,000 health workers but only produces about 10,000 annually.

Mind the gap

Swaziland boasts the world's highest HIV prevalence rate - about 26 percent - with about 50,000 people on treatment, according to Derek von Wissell, director of the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA).

''Shortages of ARV drugs reflected 'early warning signs of the negative impact of global backtracking on AIDS commitment and funding''
In recent years, the government has moved to become the primary funder of treatment, yet the ITPC report noted that poor wages and working conditions continued to drive Swazi healthcare staff out of the public sector.

Von Wissell said downturns in donor funding had affected the fight against HIV, more so in HIV prevention and support services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) than treatment provision.

HIV prevention was often a budgetary afterthought, receiving whatever was left over after allocations to HIV treatment and diagnostic services had been made. With constricted funding, child grants to support OVC were likely to remain on the drawing board, he told IRIN/PlusNews.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued new HIV treatment guidelines, but Von Wissell said funding would determine how quickly Swaziland could conform. Raising the CD4 count threshold for starting treatment, as suggested in the new guidelines, would greatly increase the number of those eligible for treatment, he said.

Malawi recently released the results of a study funded by WHO to investigate what adhering to the new WHO guidelines would mean. It found that initiating patients on ARVs sooner, at the new higher CD4 count of 350, would increase the number of those eligible for treatment by about 50 percent, making international funding even more crucial.

The ITPC report made a number of recommendations, including that international donors honour their previous funding commitments, and that governments make health a priority in their national budgets.


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report Bookmark and Share
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:

Submit your request
 More on Angola
GLOBAL: IRIN/PlusNews Weekly Issue 489, 11 June 2010
GLOBAL: Factory closure could leave 7,000 babies without ARVs
GLOBAL: PMTCT could be key to cutting child mortality
GLOBAL: ARVs for prevention? Proceed with caution, say researchers
GLOBAL: Pregnancy increases men's HIV risk
 More on HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)
AFRICA: Mother knows best
KENYA: "What would happen if my penis refused to heal?" Why men refuse circumcision
SOUTH AFRICA: Poor MDR-TB knowledge among nurses
EAST AFRICA: Pregnancy and HIV vaccine trials
KENYA: For the first time, money for ARVs
 Most Read 
EAST AFRICA: Pregnancy and HIV vaccine trials
KENYA: For the first time, money for ARVs
KENYA: "What would happen if my penis refused to heal?" Why men refuse circumcision
AFRICA: Mother knows best
SOUTH AFRICA: Poor MDR-TB knowledge among nurses
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Film & TV | Photo | Radio | Live news map | E-mail subscription
Feedback · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Jobs · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2010
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.