Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:24 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:24 | SYDNEY

HIV/AIDS to spread in PNG as funding fails

23 November 2009 15:12

Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom is a Research Associate for Pacific Friends of the Global Fund at the Lowy Institute.

Papua New Guinea’s response to HIV/AIDS has been dealt a serious blow by the failure of its latest funding application to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In its latest round of funding approvals, the Global Fund allocated US$ 1,198 million over 36 countries to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Fund received a total of 73 applications for HIV/AIDS funding in Round 9. More than half (38) of the proposals were not approved — including an application from PNG for $US 108 million to respond to its growing AIDS epidemic.

The implications of the Fund’s rejection of PNG’s application will be significant. The funding failure will have human consequences, not only for those people already on antiretroviral treatment, but also on prevention measures and programs — creating an environment for many new HIV infections. This will lead to a further erosion of standards of living and undermine the already shaky foundations of PNG’s health care system.

The Global Fund’s technical review process for assessing funding applications is widely regarded as impartial, rigorous and fair. The Board is unable to influence or select among competing funding applications. For whatever reason, the PNG application did not meet the necessary criteria developed by the technical review panel.

In order to prevent a repetition of PNG’s failure to acquire the necessary funding in its response to HIV/AIDS in the forthcoming Round 10, scheduled to be launched early next year, two vital steps need to be taken — one country specific and one in general.

Firstly, greater attention may have to be given not just to outlining the very grave extent of the PNG HIV/AIDS epidemic but in presenting a clear strategic framework for responding to the problem together with clearly stated, specific objectives, goals and performance indicators. This will include the PNG Government demonstrating its ability to improve its health system and to better manage funds and programs.

Secondly, 2010 is the replenishment year for the Global Fund. A growth in donor contributions to the Fund next year will mean a greater amount that can be distributed to countries like PNG that need money and technical assistance of all kinds to bring HIV/AIDS under control.

The Global Fund was only able to fund just over half of the submissions it received under Round 9. The funding submissions that, like PNG’s, were not funded, nevertheless, reflect real and urgent needs. PNG can only benefit from a larger Global Fund emerging from the 2010 replenishment year.

Photo by Flickr user *TreMichLan*, used under a Creative Commons license.