Cambodia Lands $44.5 Million Grant to Fight AIDS, Malaria

Cambodia’s $44.5 million proposal for malaria and HIV/AIDS programs has been accepted by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuber­culosis and Malaria, officials from the Ministry of Health and the Nation­al Malaria Center said Wednes­day.

From the distribution of mosquito bed nets to the purchase of antiretroviral drugs, this latest grant will allow health providers to wage an aggressive new offensive against the spread of AIDS and malaria, officials said.

“This will provide us with the ability to continue and scale up the fight against these diseases,” said Sok Touch, director of the Ministry of Health’s communicable disease department and the ministry’s point person for the Global Fund.

Sok Touch said he received the news that the country’s application was approved for the Fund’s fourth round of grants in an e-mail Tuesday night from a representative from the Geneva-based Global Fund, an independent financial body comprised of international donors.

Cambodia received $34.9 million for HIV/AIDS and $9.7 million for malaria to be distributed over five years, according to a copy of the country’s proposal.

The country’s $10.8 million request for tuberculosis programs was denied, a representative from the Fund wrote in an e-mail to Sok Touch. Cambo­dia’s proposal for the Third Round of the Global Fund was reject­ed last year.

Among the goals listed in the National Ma­laria Center’s proposal was to increase distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to 410 villages in 10 of the hardest-hit provinces, reaching more than 220,000 people. It also plans an education campaign expected to reach 2 million people, including 500,000 living in areas at high risk for malaria.

“It means a great lot,” said Seshu Babu, an adviser to the malaria center. “It helps us to address some of our gaps” in reaching Cambodians at risk for the disease, he said.

For HIV/AIDS, $22 million of the latest grant will be used to buy antiretroviral drugs, medicines for opportunistic infections and HIV test kits, said Dr Mean Chhi Vun, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STIs. The grant represents a colossal step forward for the country’s stated goal of providing 50 percent of the country’s eligible AIDS patients with the drugs by 2005. Currently, the government does not supply ARV drugs.

“Save people’s lives? Oh, yes, of course. It will save lives,” Mean Chhi Vun said of the grant.

In January, the malaria center received the first $900,000 of the $2.7 million that the Global Fund awarded in the second round of funding. In that round, the fund pledged $10 million for malaria programs over the next five years.


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