Russia Might Lose Millions in HIV/AIDS Funding Under New World Bank Classification
Russia might lose tens of millions of dollars in HIV/AIDS funding from international donors after the World Bank on Friday announced it has reclassified the country as an upper middle-income country, the AP/Washington Post reports. Russia -- which will receive more than $200 million in Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grants until 2011 -- will not be eligible for new grants after 2011 because of the reclassification, according to Global Fund spokesperson Jon Liden. Nongovernmental organizations in Russia that depend on Global Fund support expressed concern that they will have to rely on the Russian government for funding. "We believe that every possible effort is required to fight AIDS at the moment," Yekaterina Militskaya, of the not-for-profit organization AIDS Foundation East West, said. However, Natalya Ladnaya, who works for Russia's Federal AIDS Center, said she does not see "anything alarming in [the] decision" by the World Bank. She said the function of international aid to Russia was to help the country begin its fight against HIV/AIDS, adding, "The political support of the government does now exist, so the task has been largely achieved." Russian President Vladimir Putin in July will host a summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations at which HIV/AIDS will be a prominent topic (Meyer, AP/Washington Post, 5/19). Putin last month asked officials to increase HIV/AIDS awareness in the country as the government announced it would allocate $175 million this year for HIV/AIDS programs. The amount is a more than 30-fold increase over last year's allocation, and the government plans to increase the amount to about $284.9 million next year. Gennady Onishchencko, Russia's chief physician, said last week in Moscow at the first joint conference aimed at addressing HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that the Russian government by the end of this month plans to create a coordination committee to address the epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/17). Hundreds of HIV/AIDS advocates, officials and health workers this week gathered in Russia for a conference where participants "hailed" increased funding from the Russian government for the fight against HIV/AIDS but criticized the government's "contradictory signals" on its approach to combating the disease, according to the AP/Post. Russia estimates the official number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country is 334,000, but UNAIDS says it is almost 900,000, and other experts say the number likely is more than one million, the AP/Post reports (AP/Washington Post, 5/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.