The National Monday, December 13, 2010
By ELIZABETH VUVU
EAST New Britain has increased its budget allocation for HIV/AIDS prevention and control next year.
In the budget, the provincial executive council has increased the allocation from K126,500 to K351,000 with emphasis on the importance of HIV/AIDS as a development issue that poses a real threat to the province’s future prospects and economic growth.
According to provincial HIV response coordinator, Beverly Akuila Dam it was very encouraging to observe that stakeholders took the lead in organising the recent World AIDS Day activities which showed a clear stand of seriousness in the struggles of tackling the epidemic.
She said, however, there was still a big need for upscaling of stakeholder participation at all levels involving all sectors.
Dam said the epidemic was a major threat to the socio-economic welfare of the people and needed a strengthened multi-sectoral approach as it was a public issue.
“We need to use our combined resources to ultimately eliminate the threat to the future of PNG and particularly ENB.
“PNG has the highest rate of HIV infections in the Pacific region and especially when ENB is leading the ladder in the New Guinea islands region, it is an issue of concern for authorities responsible.”
Dam said HIV/AIDS had already affected many people’s lives and it was believed that the epidemic would affect many more lives if stakeholders did not seriously tackle the issue.
Statistics for ENB had doubled from 19 cases last year to 39 cases in the third quarter of this year.
She urged all stakeholders to work together using a holistic approach in reducing new infection and the spread of HIV/AIDS as there was no time to waste, no space for competition and no time to waste resources and there was no place for ignorance, denial, greed and selfish attitudes and behaviour.
Dam said, globally, the new number of HIV infections continued to outstrip the number of available treatment and for every two people starting treatment, a further five became infected with the virus.