Read this article in: Français - عربي

PAKISTAN: HIV programmes face funding crunch

Photo: Zofeen Ebrahim/IRIN
Pakistan is still considered a low prevalence country for HIV
KARACHI, 20 April 2009 (PlusNews) - Pakistan's efforts to combat AIDS face an uncertain future as funding for a major HIV/AIDS prevention and care project comes to an end this month.

The Pakistan HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project (PHAPCP), funded by USAID, was launched in February 2006 by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and implemented by Family Health International (FHI) in partnership with local non-governmental organizations in seven cities - Rawalpindi, Multan, Larkana, Lahore, Karachi, Turbat and Peshawar.

Pakistan has about 5,000 reported cases of HIV, according to government figures and although UNAIDS puts the actual number at about 96,000 it is still considered a low-prevalence country.

PHAPCP was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus before it became rooted in the general population. It reached about 40,500 people considered at high risk of infection with prevention messages, provided diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to 1,800 people, and voluntary counselling and HIV testing to another 10,000.

Dr Naseer Nizamani, FHI's country director, told IRIN/PlusNews that PHAPCP had completed its three-year duration and activities would be discontinued "for a while", but "We are very hopeful that in the near future things will get back on track."

Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai Welfare Society (SALBWS), an NGO targeting transgender people and men who have sex with men (MSM), is looking for other donors that will allow them to continue their HIV awareness activities. "Somehow, we cannot think of wrapping up," said project manager Agha Aurangzeb. "It's sad that USAID and FHI are no longer there with financial support; we remain optimistic."

Ayesha Zia, head of the Youth Welfare Association, a sister organisation of SLABWS that set up youth-friendly centres in a low-income area of Karachi called Orangi Town, commented: "One of the project outcomes was to reduce risky behaviour among the youth." She hoped donations from local people would allow the centres to continue  providing information on STIs, HIV and risky sexual practices.

At the New Lights AIDS Control Society (NLACS), also part of PHAPCP, Brother Khushi Lal, head of the Karachi office, told IRIN/PlusNews that the organization's goal was to empower people living with HIV so that they could take care of themselves and their families.

"As the project neared its completion, the global recession also reared its head in Pakistan," he said, noting that the lack of funding meant members now had to cover their own transport costs to attend monthly meetings.

"We have local donors who are willing to give, and though the amount is not as much as from the foreign funding, it does give us sustainability. In the meanwhile, we are willing to continue."


Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Other OCHA Sites
United Nations - OCHA
DFID - UK Department for International Development
Irish Aid
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - SDC