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U.N. Report Shows Francophone African Countries Lag Behind In AIDS Treatment; NGOs Call For Increased Funding

“Despite great progress within a short time, the 29 French-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa are lagging far behind other states in the region in the battle against HIV/AIDS and need a massive increase in international aid, according to a United Nations report” (.pdf) released Friday, the U.N. News Centre reports. The report — titled “Decision Point La Francophonie: No new HIV infections, no one denied treatment” and released at a meeting of the 56-member state International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) in Kinsasha, Democratic Republic of Congo — said while antiretroviral treatment coverage in IOF countries increased rapidly between 2003 and 2011, resulting in a nearly 30 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths, “an estimated 970,000 people are still waiting to access life-saving HIV treatment in IOF countries, accounting for 14 percent of the global treatment gap,” according to the news service.

“IOF countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieved 43 percent coverage of HIV treatment in 2011, compared to 59 percent coverage in non-IOF countries in the region”; “only 15 percent of children eligible for HIV treatment are receiving it”; and only 36 percent of pregnant women living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa IOF countries are receiving ARVs to prevent mother-to-child transmission, compared with 62 percent among non-IOF countries in the region, the news service notes. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe noted “an additional $1.4 billion in international aid, a 160 percent increase over current funding levels, will be needed annually by 2015 to fill the gap, together with a $120 million increase by the countries themselves,” according to the U.N. News Centre (10/12). At the meeting, about 50 non-governmental organizations delivered an open letter calling on France to “allocate a substantial part of the tax on financial transactions to development issues, including the right to health and the struggle against HIV/AIDS” and IOF countries to increase their donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Agence France-Presse reports (10/13).