Cambodia’s success in tackling HIV/AIDS threatened

PHNOM PENH  (December 27, 2010) : Cambodia’s widely hailed efforts in tackling HIV/AIDS are under threat with foreign donors likely to cut funding over the next two decades, a study said on December 22. “The success that Cambodia has had with its AIDS programme is at risk because of the possibility that external partners will withdraw financial support too quickly,” said Richard Skolnik of the Results for Development Institute (R4D).

The Cambodian government will have to spend more of its own money in the fight against the virus, study co-ordinator Skolnik added.

New HIV infections have dropped from around 15,500 annually in the early 1990s to about 2,100 in 2009. And around 93 percent of 33,500 AIDS patients who are eligible are receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

External partners fund 90 percent of the country’s AIDS programme, which currently costs just over 50 million dollars a year.

But as a result of the global financial crisis and a shift in donor priorities, those funds are likely to shrink in the coming years and Cambodia “will need to significantly increase its own allocation”, the report states.

The study, “The Long-Run Costs and Financing of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia”, was compiled by a team of government officials with assistance from UNAIDS and US-based R4D, which specialises in health policy analysis.

The authors compared several financing scenarios from now until 2031, four decades after HIV/AIDS was first detected in Cambodia.

Each option has a different price tag and a different rate of success in preventing new infections, and all assume the government and external donors will eventually split the costs evenly.

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