The NEWS (Monrovia)

7 May 2014

Liberia: U.S.$101 Million Awaits Liberia, But...

The National AIDS Commission has informed the Liberian Government that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has projected US$101,882,196.00 to combat the three health problems for the period of three years, but with a condition.

The Commission said Liberia, as a country, has been challenged by the Global Fund to show its seriousness by providing only five percent (US$5 million) before the money is released.

This was disclosed Tuesday in Monrovia by the Chairman of the National AIDS Commission Dr. Ivan F. Camanor at the Commission's bi-annual meeting chaired by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

In a power point presentation, Dr. Camanor said in this figure, US$45,238,243.00 is projected for HIV&AIDS response; 9,590,724.00 for Tuberculosis and US$ 47,053,229.00, amounting to US$101,882,196.00 to be used from 2014-2016 December.

This information comes at the time the National AIDS Commission and National AIDS Program are in need of funding to scale up the treatment of people living with HIV.

These two institutions are anticipating a combined achievement of 80% coverage and the expanded eligibility guidelines and increasing ART to nearly 19,000 by 2020.

Dr. Camanor told the gathering attended by an array of partners and representatives of the UN system that he hopes the number of children receiving ART would increase from 900 to nearly 1600 in the investment framework scenario when fund is provided.

He said the country hopes the number of new HIV infections would decrease and new infections would reduce by 26% by 2020 from 1,700 in 2013 to just 734 in 2020.

"Without the rapid scale-up of intervention there would still be about 1,336 new infections in 2020; note that in the base scenario adult incidence would be somewhat lower in 2020, 0.02% compared to 0.06% in 2013 but because the population is growing the number of new infections would not drop as significantly as the incidence," the National AIDS Commission indicated.

Dr. Camanor also noted that the Commission hopes the number of AIDS deaths will drop even more sharply due to the effects of scaling up ART, deaths would be 1/3 lower in 2020 with rapid scale-up, but this cannot be done in the absence of funding.

The NAC Boss said although there is a slight increase in HIV prevalence in the reproductive age population, there is strong evidence of progress in many areas including HIV counseling and testing, reduction of mother-to-child transmission, reduction of new infections and AIDS-related deaths.

He informed the gathering that HIV prevalence among key populations remains disproportionately higher than the general population, emphasizing the need for more targeted interventions for these groups.

Dr. Camanor said the national response to HIV and AIDS has made steady and in some cases dramatic achievements due to the high commitments of the government and its partners.

However, he said Liberia is challenged to do a lot more to reduce new HIV infections by reaching the most at risk population and mitigating the impact of HIV&AIDS on infected and affected Liberians.

In remarks, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf also acknowledged the stance by the Global Fund on government's five percent commitment.

"Donor support will be based on our commitment as a country... I repeat, donor support will be based on our commitment as a country, therefore we need to do something," President Sirleaf noted.

The Liberian leader recognized the effort of the National AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Program and other partners in the country's national HIV response, but challenged them to remain committed.

President Sirleaf also praised the Liberian Network of People living with HIV for coming up to share their HIV status with the population.

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