Donors pull plug on N$610m funding on HIV
Namibia stands to lose close to N$610 million which is about 51% of funds allocated to combating HIV and Aids annually because internationally funded Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are pulling out the Minister of Health has confirmed.
This comes a few weeks after President Hage Geingob told his African counterparts at a meeting in Ethiopia that the country is winning the war against the deadly HIV and Aids which accounts for the highest percentage of deaths in most African countries.
Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku told The Villager last week that approximately N$ 1, 2 billion is spent on combating HIV annually while 51% of this funding comes from international donors.
He added that Government funds only cater for 37% and employers, NGOs and households make up for the other 12%.
“HIV remains a top contributor to morbidity (sickness) in Namibia. However, the majority of financing for the pandemic’s interventions is provided by donors, which are currently transitioning their funding out of Namibia” Haufiku said.
He said Government should thus consider other strategies of mobilising domestic resources to fill the funding gap by allocating more resources to HIV, and by integrating HIV into other health services to increase efficiency.
Haufiku says the ministry has also started exploring public-private partnerships as an option for additional funding.
“We will be looking to private businesses across the country for support in terms of HIV funding, while also looking for options within the government” he stated.
In addition, the fact that the health accounts’ estimation shows that only 2% of HIV spending comes from households implies that people living with HIV are well-protected from financial risk when seeking care.
Haufiku suggestions are closer to other countries that have introduced certain taxes known as Aids levy meant to contribute to combating the spread of HIV and Aids. Some African countries use Aids levy a portion of tax taken from all working class salaries to mobilise resources to combat the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile the American embassy Public Affairs Officer Priscilla Hernadez said that because the World Banks classification of Namibia as an upper-middle class economy, most donors feel that the country has money to fund HIV programmes on it’s own and have diverted their funding to countries that cannot afford it.
She however said that big donors have not yet pulled out but rather just reduced it.
“The amount of funding is determined by the country’s economic status and since the since Namibia now ranks in the upper-middle class the US government has seen the need to divert some of the funds to countries with lower economic status” Hernandez said.
Furthermore,the head of Catholic Aids Action (CAA) Dr Chani Kudakwashe
said as international donors reduce funding, NGOs and the government will only be provided with enough money to cover treatment strategies in prevalent regions which include Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati,Oshana,Khomas, Zambezi and the two Kavango regions respectfully.
“We feel the pinch because we will be forced to close some of our programmes because of lack of funding. Beneficiaries and people at large will also be affected since funding will focus solely on biomedical treatment strategies of fighting the pandemic and completely ignoring the structural and behavioural strategies” Chani said.
He further labelled the donors’ new funding directive as short sited adding that the HIV prevalence rate in the country currently stands at 14% which extremely high compared to the standard 5% standard rate which will mean that Namibia is winning the fight against the pandemic.
Chani noted that behavioural and structural strategies still play a crucial role in insuring that the country effectively fights the HIV.
“we cannot afford to be complacent as a country and anyone who supports the country” Chani said.
As of 2010, HIV ranks first in the Namibian burden of disease list, representing almost 30% of the total Years of Life Lost (YLL) in the country.
According to the MOHSS’ recently-released Health Accounts’ report, approximately 46% of HIV health spending was on care and treatment. 16% was on prevention, which includes counselling and testing, the distribution of condoms and information as well as education and communication.
The healthcare-related category also comprised the provision of non-health support, while the social services for orphans and vulnerable children category comprised social care.
The report states that of the data which could be allocated to a specific disease, prevention spending for HIV appears to be greater than for other diseases, which has no doubt contributed to progress with the HIV response.
General management of the HIV/AIDS’ programme represents 28% of HIV spending, where the share of the spent on administration is 12%.
The proportion of HIV spending spent on administration is high. This comparison suggests that there might be some efficiency gains to be made through pooling administrative spending across different service categories.
According to PEPFAR, which is one of the largest donors of funds towards the fight against HIV/AIDS in Namibia, approximately 98,200 individuals currently receive anti-retroviral treatment, 253,300 HIV-positive individuals receive and continue to receive care and support (including TB/HIV) and 76,500 orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) are receiving support.
Furthermore, 52,200 pregnant women with known HIV status also receive services, while 7,500 HIV-positive pregnant women receive anti-retroviral prophylaxis for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT); 240,100 individuals receive counselling and testing; and 2,293 estimated infant HIV infections have been averted.
According to the report, PEPFAR defines direct support as data which captures the number of individuals receiving prevention, care and treatment services through service delivery sites, or providers directly supported by U.S. Government (USG) interventions or activities at the point of service delivery.
An intervention or activity is considered to be direct support if it can be associated with counts of uniquely identified individuals receiving prevention, care or treatment services at a unique program or service delivery benefiting from the intervention or activity.
Research shows that the Global Fund is one of the biggest contributors to Namibia and other African countries to combat communicable diseases. The fund releases US $4b approximately N$40b to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis
A vital part of the funding by global fund has been partnership with governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases which has significantly lowered numbers of people with AIDS, TB and malaria as epidemics.
by Hileni Heita