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Saturday 25 October  
Zimbabwean women's pressure groups march in Harare
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

AIDS funding cut to hit Southern Africa hardest

Published on : 29 November 2011 - 11:51am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: AFP)
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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is warning that a cut in AIDS funding over the next three years from major donors will have a major affect on southern Africa, where the HIV/AIDS pandemic is at its worst.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria called off its next funding round after failing to secure the minimum $13 billion needed to fund its programmes. The fund said earlier this month it was cutting new grants for countries battling the diseases.

The public-private fund is the single largest donor body for HIV funding and provides more than 70 percent of funds for life-saving antiretroviral drugs in developing nations.

Southern African countries that rely heavily on Global Fund aid, including Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe and Mozambique, are expected to see increasing fatalities and infections as a result of funding shortfalls. Stockpiles of life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) medication are also expected to drop.

"It is a disaster for Zimbabwe as a country," said Faizel Tezera, international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres head in Zimbabwe.

"More than 86,000 people will be left without treatment and about 5,000 children will be affected," Tezera told reporters.

Heavily compromised
Worldwide an estimated 33 million people are living and infected with HIV, with close to two-thirds of that total found in the sub-Sahara Africa.

AIDS activists said the situation in land-locked Swaziland, where approximately 26 percent of the population of 1.2 million live with HIV, was dire with dwindling stockpiles of ARVs.

Representatives from MSF and South African lobby group Treatment Action Campaign warned of an impending disaster.

"The quality of treatment will be heavily compromised," said Safari Mbewe, spokesman for the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

New infections
Malawi, where about 10 percent or 960,000 of the country's population live with the disease that attacks the human immune system, had pinned their hopes on new grants to cope with an estimated 70,000 new infections next year.

"It is catastrophic for our nations, especially women and children," TAC spokeswoman Nokhwezi Haboyi said.

Some South African state facilities are already running short of ARV medication, even though 80 percent of money to fight HIV/AIDS comes from the government.

Patients who used donor funded hospices have recently been referred to public health facilities as many shut down due to loss of funding.

Source: Reuters

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