Sustainable Funding Needed To Reduce Burma’s HIV, TB Treatment Gap

“While international attention focuses on Burma, [also known as Myanmar,] a health crisis in the country looms large,” Joe Billiveau, operations manager of Medecins Sans Frontieres’ (MSF) operational center in Amsterdam, writes in this opinion piece in Bangkok’s Nation. He continues, “An estimated 85,000 people infected with HIV in Burma are not receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). This is an improvement on previous years, with new momentum in the country to tackle the crisis,” but the cancellation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Round 11 grants “threatens to undo improvements” and prevent the planned scale-up of ART for an additional 46,500 patients and treatment for another 10,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients.

“The only answer to ensuring access to treatment is sustainable funding,” Billiveau writes, calling on governments to “not shy away from their responsibilities” and for the Global Fund “to hold an emergency donor conference so that affected countries such as Burma can apply for new grants and continue in their efforts to scale up the provision of treatment.” He concludes, “If Global Fund money is not forthcoming, it is essential that alternative solutions are found to plug Burma’s treatment gap. Without it, people will continue to needlessly suffer and die. In Burma, tens of thousands of lives hang in the balance” (2/22).