UN Eyes New AIDS Funds For Cambodia

More than $22 million in new funding could be on its way to Cambodia in the next few weeks if a proposal sent to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuber­cu­losis and Malaria in Geneva is approved.

The proposal sent March 9 seeks almost $16 million for various AIDS initiatives over the next three years, with $8.8 million to be spent on the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS.

That would be a significant increase in funding for Cambo­dia’s numerous AIDS programs. An estimated $10 million to $15 million was spent last year by NGOs, international donors and the government to combat Cam­bo­dia’s potentially explosive AIDS problem, according to UNAIDS country program adviser Geoff Man­they.

The new money would come from a fund created last year with $1.9 billion in donations and pledges from nations, corporations and foundations.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spent much of 2001 promoting the idea of the global fund, which is run by a partnership of public and private institutions. Initially, the fund was going to help sub-Saharan Africa fight the AIDS epidemic that has devastated that region for the last two decades.

Tuberculosis and malaria—diseases that also plague Third World countries in Africa and Asia—were added to the program last year.

Approximately $700 million is expected to be handed out this year, with a first round of grants to be awarded at a Global Fund board meeting in New York in late April.

Cambodia’s proposal—written by officials from the government, NGOs, foreign embassies, UN agencies and the private sector—is one of about 50 national proposals received by the board this month. It asked for $2.7 million for tuberculosis control and $3.5 million for malaria programs over the next three years.

Also included in the proposal are:

• $977,122 for educating garment factory workers, policemen, soldiers and young people about the risks of contracting AIDS.

• $1,986,332 to provide health care services to sex workers with sexually transmitted diseases and to promote the government’s “100 percent condom” usage campaign.

• $610,000 to improve the economic conditions of families who have AIDS victims.

• $3,510,000 for Population Services International’s nationwide distribution and “social marketing” of condoms.

“Cambodia has demonstrated that with significant resources, it can have a significant impact,” Manthey said. “The committee looked at what has worked in the past and then looked to rapidly increase those programs.”

For example, NGOs and government programs that brought home-based care—“a neglected area of HIV/AIDS care in Cambodia,” according to the proposal—to 3,040 AIDS patients in 2001 would increase the care to 10,000 patients in 2004.

The proposal cited a 2000 Ministry of Health survey that estimates the number of new AIDS cases will increase from 20,000 in 1999 to 130,000 in 2002. “The presence of this large number of HIV infections in the population will greatly increase the demand for health care,” it stated.

The proposal also asks for funding for antiretroviral therapy, which it said “is becoming a significant issue in Cambodia.” The high cost of the therapy has restricted ARV treatment—which has the potential of keeping HIV/AIDS victims alive for a number of years—to wealthy individuals and a few NGO pilot programs.

According to Cambodia’s proposal, once funding is approved money would be sent from the Global Fund’s account at the World Bank in Washington through the Ministry of Finance to a special financial management unit to be organized by Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot.

Cambodia will send another proposal to the Global Fund in August or September, said National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD director Mean Chhi Vun. Because they were in a hurry to complete the current proposal, the committee was not able to include every organization’s request for funding, he said.

“If we had more time, we would have asked for more money,” Mean Chhi Vun said.


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