HIV is not to blame for the ills, figuratively or literally, of developing world health systems, and funding for AIDS programs can’t take a hit in favor of other health threats.
That’s the take-home message of a statement issued last week from 87 civil society, research and other health groups from more than two dozen groups around the world. The statement condemns the notion that donor countries should siphon funding from global HIV programs to address other health problems in resource-poor countries.
“The neglect of health systems in general, and particular health challenges such as tuberculosis and diarrhea, is not a recent phenomenon and certainly cannot be attributed to one disease that is obsessively touted as the culprit-namely, HIV,” the statement reads.
The proclamation—titled “HIV is not over-funded: Health is under-funded”—rejects the notion that other health threats can or should be addressed by pitting AIDS funding against other needs, such as child and maternal health.
“This competition is completely irrational,” Paula Akugizbwe, of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, said at a press conference in Cape Town last week.
“We cannot keep shuffling our scanty resources from one disease to another and expect to see lasting change,” said Akugizbwe, a key player in organizing the statement. “Health, a vital requirement for stable societies and socio-economic development, needs to be prioritized and funded appropriately. But this cannot be at the expense of HIV, which underpins so many other health challenges.”
As the statement says: “More resources for health overall are desperately needed – not only for the humanitarian and health systems benefit, but also to lessen the destabilizing impact of poor public health on socio-economic progress, particularly in low-income countries.”
It continues: “Shifting funding from HIV will not fill the yawning gaps in resources for health – this move is a cheap diversionary tactic that offers no genuine or long-lasting solutions for health systems. What is required is a shift in political will to prioritize and invest vigorously in health. Until this happens, neglect and dysfunction will continue to pervade health systems irrespective of what specific health needs we focus upon.”
Read the full statement and see the list of endorsers by clicking below.