Myanmar's HIV patients to miss out on new foreign aid, group says
Feb 22, 2012, 8:16 GMT
Bangkok - HIV patients in Myanmar are unlikely to benefit from the increased foreign aid expected to flow the country as a reward for recent reforms, the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Wednesday.
'There are all kinds of indications that more money will be coming into the country, but there is no indication that there is more money for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients,' said Peter Paul de Groote, MSF's head of mission in Myanmar.
'Of the estimated 125,000 people in need of treatment with anti-retro-viral drugs, only about 40,000 are receiving it now,' he said.
This leaves around 85,000 HIV/AIDS sufferers currently without treatment in Myanmar, where around 15,000 to 20,000 people die of the pandemic each year, according to MSF.
MSF is the main provider of HIV/AIDS treatment in Myanmar, a former pariah state in the world community that has been ranked among the lowest recipients of humanitarian aid for decades.
A rash of political reforms initiated by President Thein Sein since coming to office in March has reignited donor interest in the country.
The Global Fund, a former donor to Myanmar, in November cancelled a round of funding earmarked to expand HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis treatments worldwide.
The Three Diseases Fund, another donor, has shifted its assistance in the country to maternal and child health care.
MSF had planned to add another 46,000 HIV/AIDS patients to its treatment programme next year with anticipated assistance from the Global Fund, which has now dried up.
It was also hoping to expand its treatment of patients suffering from drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis from 300 at present to 9,300. Nearly one of four deaths of HIV/AIDS sufferers in Myanmar is from tuberculosis.
'The math is simple. Rapidly scaling up HIV and TB (tuberculosis) treatment now would prevent further transmission and save both lives and money,' Groote said. 'With the cancellation of the Global Fund that is not happening now.'
It costs an estimated 560 dollars per year to treat an HIV/AIDS patient, and 2,000 to 6,000 dollars a year for someone suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis.