Health officials heading to Washington over HIV/AIDs funding cuts

South African health department officials will be heading to Washington toward the end of April to ask the United States not to cut their financial support of the HIV/AIDs programmes.

As SA’s biggest international HIV/AIDs donor, the US has donated $6.23-billion via the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) since 2004.

Six weeks ago it was announced that SA would received an additional $1.2-billion over the next two years, however the US global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx has since said that Pepfar’s programmes were showing a bad performance in SA as more people have stopped their treatments than those who have started during 2018 and the funding will therefore be cut in the next US financial year which starts in October.

The Pepfar programme is said to be performing extremely poorly and will therefore be cut from $670-million an annum to $400-million.

The health department’s deputy director-general, Yogan Pillay said that SA were experiencing problems retaining patients.

With 7.2-million people in South Africa living with the disease according to UNAids 2017, we have the larges HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world.  Of that, 4.4-million patients are receiving treatment but the government hopes to be treating 6.1-million by December 2020.

Business Day reported that according to US health attache to SA, Steven Smith, six other countries received the same letter of notice from Birx.

Smith said that SA can request an increase their funding provided they show that they are taking action to ensure more people receive treatment.

Pillay said they have been issued with a 10-point plan on how to address the matter to ensure patients begin treatment as soon as they are diagnosed and with regards to creating more collection points for medication.