Jamaica too rich for HIV/AIDS funding

Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer
has appealed to the representatives of The Global Fund to provide continued
funding for HIV/AIDS programmes in Jamaica, after the country became ineligible
on income grounds.

Jamaica became ineligible for
funding as a result of being categorised by The Global Fund — a global
public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources
to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — as an upper middle
income country.

Spencer said despite this grouping,
Jamaica is now facing serious fiscal challenges and will not be able to take
over funding of HIV/AIDS programmes in the next three years.

“I believe that the donor community
must re-examine the classification especially in light of the impact of the
global financial crisis. All sectors are in decline in Jamaica, the economy is
weak and experiencing a protracted period of no growth and we continue to have
a high debt to GDP ratio. This situation has implications for health spending,
health seeking behaviours and health outcomes,” explained Spencer.

Jamaica has received US$26.6
million from The Global Fund to pay for programmes over the next three years.
This latest funding support will be used for continue prevention, treatment and
care interventions.

“Our priority for the next three
years will be to increase the number of institutions with HIV workplace policy,
continue our efforts to address stigma and discrimination, scale up public
education and continue to train health workers, strengthen intersectoral
collaboration and strengthen health systems especially our laboratory
facilities,” Spencer said.

“We have a lot more to do in the
fight against HIV/AIDS and we fear that without the sustained funding, our
gains will be eroded,” he added.

Twenty seven thousand Jamaicans are
living with HIV/AIDS. Some 50 per cent of persons affected are unaware of their
status, Spencer said.

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