HIV and AIDS

SA scientist heads call for global AIDS fund to prioritise medicines

A group of African HIV/AIDS specialists representing 10 of the worst affected countries on the continent, including South African HIV/AIDS scientist Professor Hoosen Coovadia, is calling for 30% of the United Nations Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to be allocated towards making medicines for HIV/AIDS universally accessible. The group, led by Coovadia, met in Nairobi recently.

Top South African HIV/AIDS scientist Professor Hoosen Coovadia is leading a group of African HIV/AIDS specialists representing 10 of the worst affected countries on the continent in calling for a significant portion of the United Nations Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to be allocated towards making medicines for HIV/AIDS universally accessible.

The meeting by the specialists was in response to a call from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an effective and imaginative way to run the fund.

The newly formed, “Africa’s Leading Priorities in HIV/AIDS” (ALPHA) group held a roundtable discussion in Nairobi, chaired by Coovadia.

The specialists developed a consensus statement that identified the leading priorities for funding in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The Global Fund is set to dispense funds totalling U$1,5-billion to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The ALPHA group identified eight leading priorities and estimated that funding allocated to HIV/AIDS in Africa should be apportioned as follows:

  • 30% to progressive, universal access to medicines for HIV/AIDS and related infections (to include both the sourcing of drugs and the establishment of mechanisms and systems to ensure equitable, sustainable access);
  • 25% to the promotion of proven preventive practices and development of new and improved preventive practices;
  • 15% to infrastructure development by African governments to support training, capacity-building and healthcare delivery;
  • 10% to access to reliable diagnostic/monitoring tests;
  • 10% to the mobilisation of research and development;
  • 10% to nutritional security;
  • Matching response from healthcare providers – funding not required
  • Condemnation of scientifically-untested medicines – funding not required.

“We believe that 70% of the funding allocated to HIV/AIDS in Africa should be used to address the top three priorities,” said Coovadia.

In an earlier statement, the ALPHA group acknowledged the significance of the contribution that the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would make towards tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly 70 percent of the world’s 36-million cases of HIV and AIDS.

In 16 African countries south of the Sahara, more than 10 percent of people aged 15 to 49 are infected with HIV.

Throughout the world 21,8 million people – 4,3 million of them children – have already died of AIDS.

The ALPHA meeting was facilitated by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

About the author

Anso Thom