World Bank Loans Russia $150 Million For Five-Year National Plan To Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis
The World Bank on Thursday agreed to loan Russia $150 million to fund a five-year national program to treat and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, the Moscow Times reports. Russia will use $50 million of the loan to combat HIV/AIDS and $100 million for TB. The program is also supported by $2.1 million from the World Health Organization and $134.1 million from the Russian government, which is a "considerable" spending increase over current spending, according to the Times. The Russian Healthcare Foundation, a nongovernmental organization whose supervisory board is chaired by Russian Health Minister Yury Shevchenko, will implement the program, according to the Times (Munro, Moscow Times, 4/7). The program, called the Tuberculosis and AIDS Control Project, is the first nationwide Russian effort to fight TB and HIV/AIDS, according to a World Bank release. Russia has one of the world's fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemics and is one of 22 "high-burden" TB countries. In addition, Russia has a high rate of drug-resistant TB cases due to poor treatment of ordinary cases, according to the World Bank (World Bank release, 4/7). Russia has more than 230,000 documented HIV/AIDS cases, although the country's Federal AIDS Center estimates that the actual number is closer to one million, according to the Times. Although about 20,000 HIV-positive individuals are in need of treatment, only 5,000 of them receive medication, and approximately 30,000 Russians die of TB each year (Moscow Times, 4/7).
Focus on Prisons
"The rapidly growing number of people infected with TB and HIV pose daunting challenges to the country's social and economic development," Julian Schweitzer, World Bank country director for Russia, said, adding, "This project is a sign of the government's commitment to starting a more vigorous attack on these diseases" (World Bank release, 4/7). "Due to the potential for (HIV/AIDS and TB to) spread beyond Russia, the situation has been described as a time bomb or 'ebola with wings,'" the World Bank said. The program will focus on prisons, where HIV infection and TB often occur "side-by-side," according to Olusoji Adeyi, the World Bank's lead health specialist for Europe and Central Asia, the Times reports. Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed the national program. "We note that our relationships with the bank are developing in the best possible way," Putin told World Bank President James Wolfensohn on Radio Mayak in November 2002, adding, "The initiatives that we are taking together are extremely significant for us, for example, the fight against AIDS and TB" (Moscow Times, 4/7). More information on HIV/AIDS in Russia is available through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on the epidemic.