South Africa Increases Grants Funding for National HIV/AIDS Programs
South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel on Wednesday in his Budget speech to the National Assembly announced the government's plans to increase financing for national HIV/AIDS grants to nearly $255 million in the fiscal year 2006-2007 budget, an increase over the current level of $187 million, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. According to budget figures, the allocated funding will increase by 37% in the upcoming fiscal year and then level off in the following two fiscal years, with amounts totaling approximately $270 million and $285 million, respectively (Xinhua/People's Daily, 2/15). The FY 2006-2007 budget is expected to boost spending on HIV/AIDS treatment programs at the provincial level to a total of $376 million in FY 2006-2007 and $458 million in FY 2008-2009. Costs associated with other, non-antiretroviral treatments for HIV-positive people in medical facilities are not included in these figures. Manuel on Wednesday said that HIV/AIDS is "among the social service priorities" of the government. South Africa Department of Health officials said the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa has declared 2006 the "year of accelerated prevention of HIV." South Africa's spending strategy for the upcoming years would focus on enhancing social mobilization, increasing youth-focused programs, expanding treatment of other sexually transmitted diseases, providing group and individual counseling and improving access to female condoms, according to the health department. In addition, health officials announced they are increasing funding for condoms to about $24 million in FY 2008-2009 (SAPA/News24.com, 2/15). South Africa has a population of 47 million, and about six million people in the country are HIV-positive. About 112,000 people in South Africa are receiving antiretroviral treatment under the nationwide treatment program (Xinhua/People's Daily, 2/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.