HIV/AIDS Funding Needs To Be Used More Effectively Over Longer Periods of Time, Opinion Piece Says
Although Western governments have "finally mobilized to raise serious resources" for the fight against HIV/AIDS, "long-term" funding -- not "quick fixes" -- is needed to curb the pandemic, Maureen Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, writes in an opinion piece in London's Financial Times. Over the past five years, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and individual donor countries have pledged billions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide, leading to 1,000% increases in foreign aid received in Lesotho and Swaziland over the past two years and a more than 650% increase in Zambia over the same period, according to Lewis. Although "[t]here is no doubt that this new money is sorely needed, ... [i]t would be a challenge for even the most sophisticated economies to absorb these dramatic increases," Lewis says. Currently, most HIV/AIDS funding comes with a "use-it-or-lose-it" clause, but recipient countries "must be allowed to bank incoming funds rather than spend it all at once" because HIV/AIDS patients "require lifelong treatment" and funding needs to be available even when donations are "volatile," Lewis writes. Funding also must be focused not only on places where there is "immediate need" but also where funds could be used "most effectively," she says. "Finally, and most important, the fight against HIV/AIDS cannot be separated from initiatives to strengthen national health care institutions," Lewis says, adding that "[m]erely focusing on the supply of drugs and on building up staff numbers is to neglect critical ingredients such as management, logistics and motivation of personnel that make health systems work and ensure improved performance and accountability." Lewis concludes, "If the billions raised by the international community are not well-spent, the credibility of public and private programs that encourage donations will be put at risk and future money for AIDS prevention and treatment will evaporate" (Lewis, Financial Times, 4/20).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.