Ghana faces HIV funding challenges as Global Fund withdraws support
The lives of more than 60,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana may be in danger after 2013 because the Global Fund, the main financier of treatment for HIV/AIDS victims locally, has decided to withdraw its support for HIV/AIDS programmes in the country as a result of inadequate funds.
The fund’s five-year support for the treatment of 49,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana ended in April this year, but it was extended to April 2013. This will, however, not include some 12,000 people living with the disease in Ghana who were not part of the programme five years ago.
The board of the cash-strapped fund recently announced that it would not make new grants until 2014.
The fund needed $20 billion to support projects across the globe to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis but received just $11 billion. This is the first time in the fund’s 10-year history that it had been forced to cancel its three-year funding.
Currently, there are 61,393 HIV/AIDS infected people living on anti-retroviral drugs in Ghana. Out of that 2,812 are children, while the adult population is around 58,581, with about 8,000 being pregnant women.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the fringes of the seventh Annual Partnership Forum of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Dr Nii Akwei Addo, the Programme Manager of the National AIDS/STI Control Programme, who confirmed the implications of the withdrawal of the Global Fund support, stated that the development posed a threat to sustaining progress made with people living with the disease in Ghana.
The two-day event is to review progress on the implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes and activities, build concensus and galvanise technical and financial support for the next phase of the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP).
It is also to provide an outlook of the major areas of focus for 20112, as contained in the operational plan 2011-2013 of the NSP, for agreement.
Earlier, the Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, had, in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Local Government, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, said the HIV/AIDS menace had proved beyond all reasonable doubt that it was a threat to national growth and development.
He said the government would make good it pledge to commit GH¢30,000 in support of HIV/AIDS programmes in the country. Additionally, all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies had been directed to ensure that HIV/AIDS programmes and activities featured prominently in their budgets.
The government in June, this year allocated $100 million to support a new strategic plan to reduce the spread of HIV&AIDS, decrease HIV&AIDS-related deaths and improve treatment for victims of HIV/AIDS but indications are that the funds are yet to be released.
The UN Resident Co-ordinator, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, noted that universal access to HIV services was more than treatment and condoms, as essential as they were.
The Director-General of the GAC, Dr Angela El-Adas, for her part, observed that while a lot had been done through the implementation of the NSP, there was a lot more to be done to ensure that HIV/AIDS infection was reduced to the barest minimum in the country.