Ukrainian President Yushchenko Says Government Has Inadequately Addressed HIV/AIDS
Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko on Tuesday in a meeting with Cabinet ministers and the Ministry of Health said that the government's work in fighting HIV/AIDS in the country has been inadequate, UNIAN News Agency reports. There are more than 119,000 HIV-positive people and more than 21,000 people living with AIDS in Ukraine, he said.
According to Yushchenko, the government's purchases of antiretroviral drugs lack transparency, which has led to an inconsistency in the supply of medications and compromises in quality. He urged the Office of the Prosecutor General to conduct an investigation of all purchases made by the health ministry. He also highlighted issues with financing HIV/AIDS programs. Although budget growth provided financing for HIV/AIDS programs in 2007, only 50% of the available 98 million hryvnyas, or about $19 million, have been used to fight HIV/AIDS during the past 10 months, according to Yushchenko.
In addition, Yushchenko emphasized that the 112 million hryvnyas, or about $22 million, provided in the draft budget for 2008 is insufficient for treatment, prevention and the purchase of necessary medical equipment. Yushchenko called for all corresponding expenses to be included in the draft budget, saying that he will not sign a budget law that does not include expected expenses from the health ministry (UNAIN News Agency, 12/4).
"I can express a clear assessment of what the government, particularly the health ministry and the relevant subordinate organs, are doing," Yushchenko said. He added, "Unfortunately, it seems to me that there is no work in the system of government that has failed more than the fight against HIV/AIDS." The World Bank estimates that the number of HIV-positive people in Ukraine will increase to 820,000 by 2014 and that people ages 20 to 34 will account for 75% of all new cases by the same year (Ukrainian News, 12/4).