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Jamaica Increasing Funding for HIV/AIDS Programs
Jamaica Observer
April 11, 2014

Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson says while funding support from international agencies is crucial in combating HIV/AIDS, the country is taking gradual ownership of specific programmes related to the deadly disease.

The health minister was responding to questions during a Global Fund press briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday.

"In spite of the difficulty, we are moving from a position of 80 per cent external funding where we are now at about 46 per cent (local funding) in support of the HIV/AIDS programme, and so while we have gotten what we could consider transitional funding that will be specific for the high risk groups, Jamaica has demonstrated, in relation to the antiretroviral drugs, that we are taking gradual ownership in that regard," he said.

Through the Global Fund, a total of US$16 billion has been allocated for disbursement to small, developing states, like Jamaica, to fight debilitating diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The sum is being provided under the fund's revised financing model for 2014 to 2016, and is available for distribution to eligible nation states, with each country having a specific allotment, depending on its national income level and disease burden.

The sum is 20 per cent higher than the amount disbursed by the Global Fund over the previous period.

Under the revised plan, Jamaica is eligible for a US$19-million drawdown over the next two years to tackle the diseases.

Jamaica was originally slated to receive US$11 million from the Fund but following further discussions, the allocation was increased.

Dr Ferguson noted that the funding will be used to facilitate the needs of the most at-risk groups.

The minister also noted that despite the reclassification of Jamaica and other Caribbean states as 'upper middle income' countries, which has affected their ability to access funding from international agencies, other factors need to be taken into consideration when determining funding support.

"Even as we look at country classification, it is important also to take into account health indicators in the country, the debt to GDP ratio in the countries, so that in the final analysis we would be able to get a real appreciation as to a country's ability to fund not just HIV but to carry forward the overall national health agenda," he said.

He said the country continues to tackle HIV/AIDS, which is as much a public health matter as it is a developmental issue.

"Any phenomenon relative to the disease process that has a profound effect on public health, robs a society of productive capacity. This is in relation to productive capacity, which will ultimately affect development, therefore, we continue to make the point that health issues are developmental issues and we will continue to press this agenda," he said.

Executive Director of the Global Fund, Mark Dybul, said Jamaica has had tremendous success in combating HIV.

He also noted that reduction rates regarding mother- to-child transmission "are very close to what are seeing in the United States and Europe", adding that this success is mirrored throughout the region.

He added that significant declines have also been seen in tuberculosis and that the region is on a path towards eliminating malaria.

Created in 2002, the Global Fund is a unique partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector, and affected communities. The Fund channels approximately US$3 billion a year to health professionals to treat and prevent AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in their countries.

It does not implement or manage programmes, relying instead on local experts to select and administer the programmes that save the most lives.

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