US reaffirms support for fight against HIV/Aids

Eric Gooseby, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator, reaffirmed on Wednesday in Maputo, the commitment of his country to turn the tide in Mozambique’s effort to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“The United States has been committed for many years to supporting the plans for addressing HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, seeking every opportunity to combine our own resources with those of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria”, he said in a press conference held after a meeting with President Armando Guebuza, as part of a three day visit to the country.

Gooseby said the US will continue to seek new ways to combine its resources with the Global Fund so as to increase its impact in the Mozambican response to HIV/AIDS.

Gooseby stressed the importance of preventing transmission of the virus from HIV-positive pregnant women to their babies.

He added that, in his meeting with Guebuza, both spoke about the importance of strengthening cooperation between the two countries and addressed the needs of Mozambique and the possibilities of a partnership with the US to expand services for HIV/AIDS patients.

The US is the leading donor to HIV/AIDS programmes in Mozambique, with an annual contribution of 260 million US dollars. According to a press release from the US embassy in Maputo, the country has donated more than 1.3 billion US dollars to programs for HIV/AIDS in Mozambique since the beginning of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2004.

“70 per cent of the Mozambicans who receive antiretroviral treatment receive it as a result of the US contributions”, it stressed. “We are a committed partner and hope to maintain similar levels of collaboration with the Mozambican government in the coming years”.

The embassy note also stressed that the US is working with other donors to avoid any shortage of anti-retroviral drugs in Mozambique.

This promise seems to be a reaction to the warning sounded by NGOs last week, that the country would run short of anti-retrovirals as from July 2012.The NGOs claimed that next year only 60 per cent of the drugs required to cover the Mozambican demand for anti-retrovirals are guaranteed. The 40 per cent shortfall would lead to an “unprecedented crisis” for people living with HIV and AIDS.

But the US embassy believes there is no reason for alarm. The release said that “we (the US), together with the other donors, will continue to explore ways of dealing with the short term challenges of supply to ensure that Mozambique does not face a shortage of these important medicines”.

The embassy recalled that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had recently announced a change in its financing mechanism to allow it to make reforms and to handle budgetary challenges. This had led to concerns, which the embassy regarded as unwarranted.

It stressed that no country currently benefitting from funding, such as Mozambique, would be immediately obliged to suspend essential services because of these reforms.

The US government “is not cutting its funds to HIV programmes in Mozambique. It is not cutting programmes in the country, or contributions to the Global Fund”, the embassy said. “In fact, our goal is to increase the number of people, particularly pregnant women, who are receiving anti-retroviral treatment”.

The release said that any viable long term solution would have to involve a combination of sources of finance – including the Mozambican government itself, the US and other donors, and the Global Fund – in order to guarantee that the necessary funding is always available.

The embassy added that Mozambique could take on a role of greater leadership in the fight against AIDS, by devoting 15 per cent or more of its general budget to health budget. This is a target that African countries set themselves in the Abuja Declaration of 2001 – but currently only seven per cent of the Mozambican state budget goes on health.

Post published in: Africa News

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