SA flunks when it comes to AIDS spending

Released in Stockholm yesterday, the country-by-country scorecard rates the information countries provide to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The scorecard – which rates data collection, focus on most-at-risk populations, treatment, prevention, co-ordination, civil society, financing and human rights mainstreaming ‘€“ was developed over a two year period with the help of experts from among others Harvard and the University of Cape Town.

South Africa scored a D for data collection which the AAI said was much due to poor reporting, with no improvement since the last time the country was assessed.

The country showed an improvement in antiretroviral coverage (2% in 2004 to 28% in 2008), but the AAI said overall performance remained poor (D-symbol) with only just over a quarter of those needing treatment getting it.

‘€œThe low score is due to poor performance rather than poor reporting,’€ the AAI said on South Africa’€™s scorecard.

South Africa graded well when it came to assessing the environment civil society operated within with civil society giving government a 7/10 for 2007 compared to 4/10 for 2005.

In terms of financing the AAI said that South Africa reported spending U$621,6-million on its response to HIV/AIDS. With an estimated 5,7-million people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, this equated to U$ 109 per person with HIV per year. Taking these calculations into consideration, the AAI gave South Africa an E-symbol.

Of this money, more than three quarters (77%) comes from domestic resources, but equates to only 2% of the gross national income per capita ‘€“ another reason to give South Africa an E-symbol in the financing category.

The overall E-symbol for financing was also partly due to poor reporting.

The AAI said current reporting on national responses to the global AIDS epidemic worldwide was so incomplete that it was difficult to compare how different countries were performing or to analyze what progress was being made by governments in fulfilling their national commitments on HIV/AIDS.

 ‘€œDespite very significant expertise and resources, much of our knowledge about responses to HIV and AIDS rests on assumptions that have yet to be validated,’€ said Lars Kallings, AAI chairman. ‘€œThere are also important gaps in the information reported, for example, on human rights and gender issues: if a country cannot account for how women’€™s specific vulnerabilities to AIDS are being addressed, we cannot claim to know whether a response is successful or not.’€

 AAI Founder and Executive Director Rodrigo Garay said that more than twenty-five years into the AIDS epidemic, there was still no methodologically rigorous independent rating system that held governments and other actors accountable for their promises.

 ‘€œAAI is now changing that, building on experience from other fields where rating mechanisms have proven to be powerful tools for ensuring accountability.’€

The AIDS Accountability Country Scorecard is intended primarily as a resource for advocates, stakeholders and beneficiaries working to improve national responses to HIV and AIDS through greater transparency and accountability.

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  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews

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