By YEHIURA HRIEHWAZI in Brisbane
THE Australian government on Tuesday announced a grant of A$750,000 (K1.82 million) to assist the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS).
Australia’s parliamentary secretary for international development assistance Bob McMullan and colleague MP and health minister Mark Butler announced the aid assistance package in Canberra along with assistance for Burma and Indonesia.
The NACS grant is welcome news for NACS director, Wep Kanawi who lamented the reduction of support to his office and expressed concern over lack of funds to run his programmes.
Tuesday was the 21st anniversary of World AIDS Day.
It was observed worldwide when governments, NGOs and companies helping to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS issues and the need to support people living with the incurable disease.
The Rudd government announced that Australia will give A$750,000 (K1.82 million) to PNG NACS, which is part of A$3 million (K7.3 million) over three years to HIV prevention programmes in Myanmar, Indonesia and PNG to help reduce the spread of HIV.
“The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region continues to increase, with an estimated five million people now living with HIV/AIDS,” the statement said.
“Recent Australian research has shown that inadequate HIV/AIDS education for men who have sex with men in the Asia-Pacific is one of the main causes of increasing HIV infection in the region,” it said.
Of the rest of the A$3 million (K7.3 million), Myanmar will also receive A$750,000 (K1.82 million) and Indonesia A$1.5 million (K3.65 million)
The PNG component would be used for NACS policy and legal reform, clinical health service improvements, and further HIV education and advocacy for and by men who have sex with men, the statement said.
Australia’s theme for World AIDS Day 2009 is, “Take action. No discrimination.”