Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 10:29 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 10:29 | SYDNEY

Two bad reasons to cut HIV/AIDS funding in Indonesia


Malcolm Cook

17 March 2008 15:31

Two newspaper articles came across my desk last week that show some of the political challenges facing the worldwide fights against HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that by 2015, Indonesia may well have 1 million HIV/AIDS cases, with the western provinces on Papua already facing an HIV/AIDS epidemic with prevalence rates about 2.4%. Yet, according to Reuters, many foreign donors, who collectively account for over two-thirds of funds available to fight HIV/AIDS in the country, are pondering significant reductions in future funding, as Indonesia is now classified as a 'middle-income' country.

Last Thursday, the Jakarta Post reported on how local elections are draining money away from local HIV/AIDS budgets. 23 local governments have cut their aid budgets in order to boost funds for the elections. Next year, Indonesia will have three national elections (one parliamentary and then a presidential election and most likely a run-off presidential election) that are likely to be hotly contested and very costly. In 2007 alone, a non-election year, the Health Ministry in Jakarta cut the HIV/AIDS budget by 20%. Let’s hope that more cuts are not on the way.

At the same time that Indonesia’s HIV/AIDS problem is becoming much worse, especially in the Papuan provinces, the politics of money both within Indonesia and the international aid community mean that less money is likely to be available to fight the disease. For the international aid community, it is because Indonesia is 'too wealthy', and locally it is because Indonesia now needs funds for elections. Neither sounds like a good enough reason to me.