Progress on HIV-AIDS Reduction “Unsustainable”

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Bangkok-based correspondent for Inter Press Services, Marwaan Macan-Markar, writes that even as Cambodia’s basks in praise for being in line for completing one of its eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015, its continued dependence on foreign donor assistance may yet prove the country’s “remarkable history in driving down HIV infections” unsustainable. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53976

In 2000, when world leaders announced the eight time-bound MDGs, the prevalence rate among adults in Cambodia was close to 2%, yet by 2009 it had dropped to 0.7%.

International donors fund close to 90% of the country’s HIV programme, whose resources have ballooned from US$21 million in 2001 to nearly US$52 million in 2008.

Better preventative methods for most-at-risk groups combined with greater responsibility for funding programmes domestically is the way forward, according to a recent report, The Long-Run Costs and Financing of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia (download from here: http://www.resultsfordevelopment.org/about/newsandevents/aids2031-study-featured-cambodian-ministry-health-symposium-phnom-penh) but “without political will, this will not be possible.”

This creates something of a dilemma. One the one hand, the government is accustomed to outsourcing such programmes to the international aid industry but, on the other, is becoming increasingly exasperated at any suggestion of criticism of its policies by these very agencies.

No doubt, with careers on the line, some type of compromise with be forthcoming.

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