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Budget reductions cut into efforts to fight HIV/AIDS

Update: August, 18/2014 - 08:19
A nurse takes care of HIV patients at Lai Chau Hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases. Concern is growing as foreign aid decreases and the government plans to deprioritise investment for HIV/AIDS control. —VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HAI PHONG (VNS) — Decreasing foreign aid and the government plan to deprioritise investment for HIV/AIDS control is seen as growing concerns in the fight against the deadly disease, a government official said.

At a recent workshop in Hai Phong on HIV/AIDS control policies, Dang Thuan Phong, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs, noted a decrease in foreign aid for HIV/AIDS control, as Viet Nam enters the group of middle-income countries.

He said the government was also planning to abolish the national target programme on preventing and fighting HIV/AIDS, drugs and prostitution, which meant these social problems would no longer be prioritised for investment.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam continues to raise its targets in HIV/AIDS control, with antiretroviral treatment planned for 100,000 HIV carriers, from the current 48,000 receiving treatment, and Methadone therapy for 80,000 drug users, up from the 16,000 now receiving the therapy, by the end of next year.

Phong said efforts to control HIV/AIDS have so far helped to reduce the infection rate to under 0.3 per cent of the population, and the numbers of new infections and cases of AIDS developing from HIV have likewise decreased.

Kristan Shoultz, UNAIDS Viet Nam Country Director, suggested that the country maintain current initiatives and take further drastic action to sustain the results of the past 15-year effort in HIV/AIDS control.

She said the UNAIDS's initiative on a strategic investment case for HIV aimed to determine effective tools in allocating and optimising all resources for HIV/AIDS control activities.

Participants at the workshop were also introduced to the national investment strategy on HIV/AIDS control for 2015-20.

Nguyen Hoang Long, head of the Ministry of Health's HIV/AIDS Prevention Department, Viet Nam needed to focus its efforts on expanding effective interventions, such as supplying clean injection needles, providing condoms and expanding HIV testing among the people.

Long also said highly-vulnerable areas and the most vulnerable groups should be given priority in investment, while central and local budgets for HIV/AIDS prevention should be maintained.

Promoting health insurance participation nationwide and increasing non-State investment in health services are also solutions to helping control the problem, Long added. — VNS

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