Pakistan set to get $18m for anti-Aids fight

Global Fund has approved over $2m more than the country demanded


Sehrish Wasif January 02, 2016
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:


To stem the spread of HIV/Aids in Pakistan, the Geneva-based non-profit Global Fund has earmarked $18.75 million for the year 2016-17 – over $2 million more than the country had demanded.


Pakistani authorities had asked for $16 million to continue their fight against HIV/Aids this year.

National Aids Control Programme Manager Dr Baseer Achakzai told The Express Tribune that for the first time in Pakistan’s history the international organisation has approved an amount more than the demand.

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Last year in September, Pakistan had submitted the HIV/Aids concept note worth $16 million to the Global Fund for approval. A technical review panel, comprising independent experts, evaluated the programme and approved its submission.

Later, a Pakistani delegation, headed by Dr Baseer, met the team of experts and informed them about the challenge of meeting the annual targets owing to lack of resources and an increasing number of HIV/Aids patients in Pakistan.

Considering the gravity of the situation, Dr Baseer believes the fund approved two million dollars more than the demand made by the country. “This is no doubt a positive sign for Pakistan in its fight against HIV/Aids.”

One of the important salient features added in the concept note this year is introduction of a satellite service in key areas of the country to locate HIV/Aids patients, who are still unregistered with the government for getting treatment.

“They are the main source of transmitting the virus to others and are currently one of the major hurdles in controlling the spread of the disease,” Dr Baseer said.

While sharing details of the new concept, he said designated health teams would test people in different communities for HIV/Aids and those who test positive would be registered for getting treatment through the satellite service.

Let’s talk about STDs

“Hopefully this will help Pakistan shrink the gap between the registered and unregistered HIV/Aids patients,” Dr Baseer said.

The estimated number of people living with HIV/Aids in the country is 94,000. The number of patients officially registered with the government is only 14,000.

In 2013-14, about 5,500 HIV/Aids patients registered with the government. Around 15,000 were registered in 2014-15.

Integrated surveillance

By June 2016, Dr Baseer said Pakistan would complete the Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance (IBBS) survey to determine the exact number of people living with HIV/Aids, including transgender, male and female sex workers, and drug addicts.

“It will also help determine the behavioural changes among patients, who after treatment went back to their communities,” he said.

Since 2011, Pakistan has been unable to carry out this survey due to shortage of funds as none of the donor agencies agreed to finance it. Earlier in 2015, the Global Fund, which is the world’s largest financier of anti-AIDS, anti-TB and anti-malaria programmes, had approved $1 million for the survey.

Dr Baseer said Pakistan would execute this plan with a consortium of partner agencies like World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS and UNFPA among others. Bahria University and University of Manitoba, Canada, will also assist Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2016.

COMMENTS (1)

NKAli | 5 years ago | Reply Rather than ask Geneva based Global Fund for US18 million, why not ask for their advisors and doctors? Salams
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