…but heavy dependence on foreign aid is a challenge
By Zena Henry
Six of the eight United Nation’s (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG), adopted by Guyana in 2000, seek to wage a global war against HIV/AIDS by the year 2015. Internationally, Guyana is among 10 nations that have achieved universal access to the treatment of the deadly infection.
However, the nation is heavily dependent on foreign aid and this poses a different challenge towards fighting HIV/AIDS; and might be a potential weakness in future systems.
Roberto Campos of UNAIDS said during a media seminar last week that Guyana has attained 87 percent of antiretroviral coverage in comparison to other countries, while attaining 89 percent coverage on mother to child transmission. The prevalence of transmission has dropped significantly, the gathering heard.
“It means that Guyana is one of 10 countries in the world which achieved universal access to treatment. And Guyana is also on track to eliminate HIV child infection by 2015.”
“On the other hand,” Campos continued, “We have some challenges. The very first challenge is about the sustainability in this response, considering that all those funds and all those data and all those achievements are not coming from domestic funds, so that Guyana is heavily dependent on international funds and that’s a challenge for the near future.”
Campos explained that the record achievement being made by Guyana is not coming from local funds. He suggested that the country’s progress coincides with the aid that it receives; this could be a future challenge as it relates to keeping up the medical progress that the country is making.
“As it relates to what the Minister said about partnerships, we need to re-establish this partnership to leverage the domestic funds for HIV and AIDS,” Campos pointed out.
Minister of Finance Ashni Singh, who was the special speaker at the event, boasted of the great foreign relationship that Guyana has been able to achieve. As it relates to the eighth MDG goal (developing global partnership for development), the Minister was pleased with Guyana’s level of foreign partnerships and extended invitations for even more economic takers.
The second challenge expressed by the UNAID representative is about stigma and discrimination. It was mentioned that the behaviour towards infected persons still needs to be improved, while movements towards achieving the 2015 deadline should incorporate systems towards stigma and discrimination.
In general, the prevalence of the infectious virus is 1.3 percent; but when we focus on vulnerable, key populations at higher risk, it leverages a bit, Campos related. It is 16 percent among sex workers, and 19 percent among homosexuals and six percent among minors.
Another challenge relating to the 2015 attainment, Campos rose, is accessing migrants and persons within hinterland areas. He said ways have to be devised on better expanding access to migrants and hinterland populations; which are hard to reach populations.
He said that it should be remembered that the younger population is the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and attention must be focused down on them to prevent future infections.
However, the 2015 goal is for 15 million people to receive treatment globally and to decrease the spread of infection by 50 percent. Currently, 9.7 million people have access to antiretroviral treatment all around the world.
“Globally we are on track; the report shows that globally infections in children dropped by half and infections in adults and children dropped by 33 per cent from 2001 to 2012,” Campos informed.
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