Global Fund rejection a wake-up call: Kanawi

National, Normal

NATIONAL AIDS Council Secretariat  executive director Wep Kanawi says the rejection of Papua New Guinea’s bid to Global Fund for the next round of funding for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs is a “wake-up call” for the country to “get serious about planning and care for people living with HIV”.
According to Mr Kanawi, Global Fund has been the only agency that has been funding ARV drugs in PNG. The funding was worth about K10 million so far.
He said he had been instructed by the National AIDS Council members to pursue two options to secure funding for the ARV drugs which were vital to the survival of people living with HIV.
The NACS would work closely with the Government officials who developed the proposal to Global Fund to either submit a proposal for full funding from the PNG Government or secure funding from the PNG Government and another source.
Mr Kanawi said they would try to secure at least US$5 million (K17 million)-double the amount Global Fund had been allocating because as Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) was becoming effective throughout the country, more people were disclosing their status and going on treatment.
The increased funding would ensure that the country “avoids running out of drugs” in the next five years.
In Morobe province, there are currently 153 people on ARV treatment.
Officer in charge of the clinic, Dr Elsie Ryan said last week that they had enough ARV drugs to last them until next January  before they request for another lot of drugs.
Currently, all HIV patients in the country were on “first line treatment” which was supplied free of charge. It was estimated that an individual will have to pay between K500 and K700 for a container of ARV drugs per month if it is not supplied by the Government.
Meanwhile, the National AIDS Council’s development budget for 2010 had been doubled to K9.6 million.
The development budget caters for HIV/AIDS partners who had applied to NACS for funding to implement their activities.