US$101M to Battle HIV, TB, Malaria

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The National AIDS Commission (NAC) has said that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has projected US$101,882,196 to combat these diseases for a period of three years.

As a precondition to receiving this amount, the Commission said, Liberia has been requested by the Global Fund to provide only five percent (US$5M) before the money is released to the government of Liberia.

This means full disbursement of the Global Fund will be contingent upon the country’s willingness to pay its contribution to the cost of the national response.

Making the disclosure, the Chairman of NAC, Dr. Ivan F. Camanor, said the news of the fund is worth welcoming in that the NAC and its collaborating partner, the National AIDS Control Program (NACP)  are in need of funding to scale up the treatment of people living with HIV.

He urged government to make available its portion of the fund, which serves as a ‘trump card’ to receiving the money, in order to start appropriate program for immediate and efficient HIV responses.

Dr. Camanor spoke at the meeting of Board of Directors of the AIDS Commission, which was chaired by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Liberian leader is the Chairperson of the Board of Director of NAC.

The Board meeting was held in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, May 6.

In a power point presentation, Dr. Camanor said out of the US$101M, US$45,238,243 is projected for HIV&AIDS response; 9,590,724 for Tuberculosis and US$ 47,053,229 for malaria, amounting to US$101,882,196. These funds will be used from 2014 to 2016 December.

The NAC boss said that his institution and the NACP are anticipating a combined achievement of 80 percent coverage and the expanded eligibility guidelines and increasing Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) to nearly 19,000 by 2020.

Dr. Camanor told the gathering comprising an array of partners and representatives of the UN system that he hopes the number of children receiving ART would increase from 900 to nearly 1600 in the investment framework scenario when fund is provided.

He said the country hopes the number of new HIV infections would decrease and new infections would reduce by 26 percent by 2020 from 1,700 in 2013 to just 734 in 2020.

The Commission reported a steady increase of HIV victims in recent years. A considerable increment among men as a result of men having sex with men (gay activities), was also reported.

“Without the rapid scale-up of intervention there would still be about 1,336 new infections in 2020; note that in the base scenario adult incidence would be somewhat lower in 2020, 0.02 percent compared to 0.06 percent in 2013 but because the population is growing the number of new infections would not drop as significantly as the incidence,” the National AIDS Commission indicated.

Dr. Camanor also noted that the Commission hopes the number of AIDS deaths will drop even more sharply due to the effects of scaling up ART, deaths would be 1/3 lower in 2020 with rapid scale-up, but this cannot be done in the absence of funding.

For her part, President Sirleaf said she will continue to advocate that HIV/AIDS, Gender Equality, Sexual and Gender-based violence are given the priority attention they deserve at the global level in her capacity as a co-chair of the United Nations High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

She indicated that the results of her advocacy will depend greatly on how the national anti-AIDS authorities will engage the global community in achieving the agenda.

President Sirleaf wants data collected from the outgoing strategic framework to form part of the development of the new HIV Strategic Plan based on the investment approach of the new funding model of the Global Fund.

“In order to have an impactful participation in the new global plan, it is incumbent upon national government to mobilize domestic funding to respond to HIV which will enable the Government to consolidate past achievements and at the same time strengthen its collective determination in recording zero new HIV infections, zero new deaths and zero discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS,” she said.

She encouraged members of the NAC to remain positively engaged with the international community in forming part of the new action plan that is expected to commence in 2015 and run up to 2020 as the current action plan closes later this year (2014).

The Co-chair of the House of Representative committee on health, Representative Johnson Toe Chea in an exclusive interview with reporters, pledged his support to ensure that government makes available the US$5M as soon as possible.

He said though the current budget preparation is at an advanced stage, he will lobby to ensure rapid progress so that Liberia would not forfeit the Global Fund.

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