By ELIZABETH MIAE
THE Government will need to strengthen its health systems and provide all the resources and funding to roll out the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in the country.
This is because Global Fund will provide ART at least up to September 2012, despite the expiry of the current grant to the country.
Global Fund has spent almost K200 million in PNG on HIV/AIDS alone.
The current supply of ART will run out in August but Global Fund assured UNAIDS and the Health Department that the supply of drugs would continue until 2012.
Global Fund Asia Unit director, Dr Swarup Sarkar, said the funding would not be sufficient to cater to other health services that allowed for the smooth flow of drugs to all the health facilities and the Government needed to step in.
He expressed concern that funding for HIV/AIDS and the health budget had decreased by between 30% and 60%.
There are 6,300 registered PLHIV who are currently on ART in the country. Global Fund provides US$7million (K21million) to buy drugs for PLHIV on treatment.
Health Department HIV/AIDS head Dr Esorom Daoni expressed similar sentiments and added that their greatest challenge was getting the treatment to all the people in the rural areas.
Dr Daoni said the Government needed to improve all the health services, including physical infrastructures.
According to a statement by the Global Fund, PNG’s existing HIV grant agreement which provides for ART expires on Aug 31 and a new grant application last year was rejected by Global Fund’s board after it failed to receive a positive recommendation from an independent international panel of global health and development experts.
It explained that PNG was eligible to apply for up to two years of funding to pay for the products and services that are directly related to the continuation of treatment for existing patients.
PNG’s country coordinating mechanism submitted the application for continuity of services on Feb 15.
Global Fund will review the application closely in the next 12 weeks and request clarifications, particularly regarding the confirmed number of individuals registered and receiving ART.