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AIDS Advocates Call For African Governments To Spend More Of Their Own Funds On Health

“Doctors and AIDS activists on Friday urged African governments to fulfill a decade-old pledge to spend more of their own money on health if they want international help in fighting AIDS,” the Associated Press reports.

Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who is “a longtime advocate for children in her homeland of Mozambique and around the world, told reporters Friday that African governments need to honor pledges made at an African Union summit in 2001 to devote at least 15 percent of national budgets to health” – a promise only “a half dozen countries” have fulfilled, according to the news service, which added that “Avertino Barreto, Mozambique’s deputy director of health, said foreigners cannot be expected to help if Africans don’t help themselves” (Bryson, 9/10).

Countries “need to be reminded that fighting AIDS will save money in the long term, said Peter Mugyenyi, a specialist in HIV/AIDS and a member of the [Campaign to End Pediatric AIDS] CEPA Council,” Inter Press Service reports.

The article also includes statements by Machel and Barreto, who are also part of CEPA, as well as comments by Dorothy Mbori-Ngacha, UNICEF regional advisor on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV for Eastern and Southern Africa, who spoke of the role of the community in the fight to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS (Stein, 9/10).

TIME Examines How Funding Cuts To Romania By International Donors Could Reverse The Country’s Gains In HIV Fight

TIME reports on how the recent withdrawal of funds for Romania’s HIV programs by international donors could threaten the country’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. “According to UNAIDS, since 2001, HIV prevalence in the [Eastern Europe and Central Asia] region has risen by 66% to include 1.5 million people. … The problem, experts say, is lack of funding for HIV prevention and of political will to work with stigmatized groups.” The article examines how in Romania, NGOs have worked for a decade to offer HIV prevention programs, such as  needle-exchange programs, to vulnerable populations in the country, and the impacts such efforts have had on HIV rates among injecting drug users (IDUs), which stand at “just 1% — the lowest in Eastern Europe.”

However, “nearly four years after Romania joined the European Union, the World Bank no longer classifies Romania as a developing country, making it ineligible for a number of international grants” – the major funding source for the HIV prevention programs operated by the NGOs in Romania. “Since June, UNICEF, the Open Society Institute and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have all withdrawn funding for the country’s HIV programs.”

Experts warn that without funding for HIV prevention “Romania’s HIV problem could get very serious, very fast,” the magazine writes. “That has consequences for the rest of Europe too. Freedom of movement within the E.U. makes it easier for disease to spread; what’s more, in 2008 Romania surpassed Russia to become the largest supplier of migrant sex workers to the E.U.”

The article includes comments by NGOs and other HIV advocates on the ground as well as the country coordinator for UNAIDS (Adams, 9/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.