HIV: The corona pandemic has significantly limited global efforts to fight HIV and AIDS. HIV Norway criticizes government cuts in support for the Unaids.
On this year’s International AIDS Day, which is celebrated today, the United Nations Unaids and others who are concerned with HIV / AIDS prevention are more concerned than they have long ago.
The Unaids estimated that 500,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa alone could die from AIDS after treatment interruptions due to a coronary pandemic.
“The positive development we have seen around the world has unfortunately been significantly undermined by the corona pandemic,” says Anne-Karin Kolstad, Norway’s Secretary General for HIV.
It is especially about the closure of society and increased pressure on health services as a result of the pandemic that has hit work hard.
Transportation problems and closed delivery points prevented test equipment and drugs from reaching those who need them. And when HIV-infected people are not given medication, the risk of developing AIDS and death increases dramatically.
He was in a favorable position
Kolstad points out that a lot has been achieved in the fight against HIV / AIDS.
Prior to the corona pandemic, the Unaids reported that we were well prepared to meet the international goals of ’90-90-90′.
These goals mean that 90% need to know their HIV status, 90% need to have access to HIV drugs, and 90% need to be infection-free with effective treatment.
Access to HIV testing, HIV drugs and HIV prevention drugs has now dropped dramatically.
– It’s so sad. Many countries, not only in Africa, have been ready to meet these goals and then the pandemic comes, says Kolstad.
She praises the Unaids for their unique experience of getting help where it’s needed.
– Unaids are more important than other actors because they act locally and know where and when to make an effort.
Norway limits support
Therefore, HIV Norway is very concerned that the government has cut Norway’s support for the Unaids.
While the government is proposing NOK 95.2 million in the state budget of increased support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), it has reduced the allocation for Unaids from 60 million this year to 45 million next year.
“With COVID-19, the allocation for health has increased, but at the same time there is increasing pressure on that allocation and we have prioritized based on professional recommendations. This has reduced our contribution to the Unaids, ”writes Development Aid Minister Dag-Inge Ulstein (KrF) in an email, referring to the increase in support for GFATM.
“This is due to the fact that the fund has proved to be very effective and reaches the weakest,” writes the Minister for Development Aid.
Criticism of the Unaids
In previous years, Norway transferred NOK 130-140 million per year to Unaids.
The fact that 2020 support was cut to NOK 60 million was justified by the culture, intimidation and harassment in the organization.
In the state budget for 2020, the government wrote:
“The new leader, Winnie Byanyim from Uganda, is now in place working to rebuild trust in the organization and its leadership is ongoing and will be crucial in the future. On the Norwegian side, we will follow the work and consider increasing Norwegian support for the Unaids.
“Byanyim did a great job removing the Unaids, so it amazes me that what the government said last year about reconsidering the raise is now completely gone and they cut more instead,” says Anne-Karin Kolstad.
In an email to Klassekampen, Norad Bård director Vegar Solhjell writes that Norad feels Unaids is on the right track as it continues its roadmap for a better working environment.
“Nevertheless, we continue to cooperate with the governing bodies at Unaids, as the fight against harassment, intimidation and abuse of power is important to us with regard to all partners,” he writes and emphasizes that Unaids is an important partner of Norad and “plays a key role as a normative and a professional leader in the global HIV effort ».
FRP wants to cut more
The Progress Party wants to cut even more and give the Unaids only nine million.
“Unaids is not the only organization fighting HIV / AIDS. It is quite possible that they are doing it differently or better, ”writes FRP foreign policy spokesman Christian Tybring-Gjedde.
“The positive development we have seen around the world has unfortunately been severely undermined by the corona pandemic”
– ANNE-KARIN KOLSTAD, HIVNORGE SECRETARY GENERAL
“It may sound harsh, but we want to make it a higher priority. Otherwise, the MMF will continue to provide over three billion in health aid, ”he writes.
Tybring-Gjedde points out that support for the Global Fund remains high and that the MMF is willing to allocate funds to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR).
– It’s good to donate money to the World Fund. They work well on a general level, but not in the countries. They are Unaids. They know the situation well in the field and their fantastic network is also used in working against COVID-19, says Anne-Karin Kolstad.
SV, Rødt and Ap will increase
Both the Labor Party and SV and Rødt want to reverse government cuts in support for the Unaids in their alternative budgets. The Labor Party and the Red Party propose an increase in support by NOK 15 million to last year’s level of NOK 60 million, while the Socialist People’s Party proposes an increase in support by NOK 30 million.
“The Labor Party believes this is not the right time to reduce support for the UN AIDS program,” writes the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Anniken Huitfeldt (Labor) and points out that the COVID-19 pandemic also has serious consequences to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
– I’m worried about the Unaids situation. Many people living with HIV and AIDS are hard hit by the effects of the pandemic, says SV leader Audun Lysbakken.
SV also proposes an overall additional 25 million for the SRHR.
“We believe the government should generally spend more on the SRHR in a world where conservative forces are growing,” says Lysbakken.
“Rødt believes the government must listen to HIV Norway’s opinion and follow the positive message that the Unaid problems have already been cleared up – then funds must return as well if the government is to be credible,” writes Rødt leader Bjørnar Moxnes by email.