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African countries urged to increase AIDS funding despite macro-economic challenges

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Harare (New Ziana) –African countries should increase funding for HIV and AIDS programs despite the macro-economic challenges that many of them face, to avoid reversing the tremendous gains that have been made in the fight against the pandemic, an expert has said.

Devdelopment officer for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Nertila Tavaxhi said this while addressing delegates attending the 22nd International Conference of AIDS and STI’s in Africa on Tuesday.

Tavaxhi said direct funding of HIV and AIDS may not be enough and sustainable, hence the need for additional measures that ensure continuous

She commended the governments of Zimbabwe, Ghana and Botswana for coming up with ‘levy’ measures to fund HIV and AIDS programs.

The measures have been stable and consistent for several years, a situation that has enabled donor institutions to ride on them, she said.

“In Zimbabwe there is the AIDS Levy, in Ghana there is the Levy for National Insurance and in Botswana there is the Alcohol Levy and these all raise money for health, particularly HIV and AIDS,” she said.

“These have been efficient and effective over a long period of time and it beats the direct funding system where the government shoulders the money itself because, understandably, government spending in health is strained because of macro fiscal economic difficulties,” she said.

Tavaxhi said with such mechanisms in place, it makes work easier for multilateral development institutions such as the World Bank and the Global Fund to blend in and produce operational efficiency of strengthening the country’s systems.

“This also no doubt gradually transitions certain interventions and systems in that country beyond services for certain diseases.

“So we have supported such mechanisms as the Global Fund and we will continue to do so because the results have been encouraging,” she said.

She applauded the efforts by governments across the continent for cutting AIDS related deaths by one third in the last six years.

The on going ICASA , which was officially opened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday, has drawn more than 5 000 participants from over 150 countries, will end on Saturday.

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