Economic melt down excuse raises HIV/AIDS fears

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Donors have been cutting funding for HIV/AIDS in eight African countries as a result of the global economic meltdown. This increasing phenomenon has forced some doctors to abandon patients to their fate.

Doctors Without Borders (DWB) have examined AIDS programs in Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and found that doctors are being forced to turn down patients as a result of cuts in funding.

One of the major international supporters of AIDS programs, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has come under pressure from the wealthy governments that fund it to cut back, DWB said.

According to DWB the funding cuts threaten to unravel years of progress on the continent hardest hit by AIDS.

Margie Hardman, a founder of a clinic in South Africa that cares for some 2,000 AIDS patients, told DWB that U.S.-funded donors have told her to stop enrolling new patients: “We had to turn these patients away and refer them to local government hospitals or clinics,” Margie Hardman was quoted

According to Dr. Eric Goemaere, a medical coordinator in South Africa for DWB, “Donors were citing the global recession as a reason for cutbacks. But that is no excuse for backing off on commitments to step up the fight against AIDS.”

DWB has urged rich countries to fulfill their obligations to poorer nations after they discovered that people were turned away because the clinics did not have enough medication.

But Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of The Global Fund, warned last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos that “In the middle of this turmoil, rich nations cannot forget they have a responsibility to help narrow huge inequities between rich and developing nations, especially in access to healthcare.”

Funds for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the next three years will be determined at meetings in October.

Stefan Emblad, fundraising coordinator for the Global Fund told The Associated Press on Thursday that even if the Global Fund gets maximum funding at the October meetings, the world will still be far from the goal of providing AIDS drugs to everyone who needs them.

“Health must be at the core of development; it is not just a desirable add-on. In a globalized world, the health and security of the poorest nations are inextricably linked with the health and security of the richest,” says Michel Kazatchkine.

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