World Bank Announces Plan To Implement Long-Term Development Projects To Fight HIV/AIDS in Africa
The World Bank on Wednesday announced a four-year plan to tackle HIV/AIDS in Africa that shifts its mission from providing emergency relief to implementing long-term development projects, Reuters reports (Wroughton, Reuters, 5/14).
The strategy was outlined in a report, titled "World Bank's Commitment to HIV/AIDS in Africa -- Our Agency for Action, 2007-2011," the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. The agency developed the strategy in conjunction with African countries, people living with HIV/AIDS, United Nations agencies, nongovernment organizations and private companies.
Under the plan, the World Bank will advise African countries on how best to manage the influx of international HIV/AIDS funding. It also seeks to improve countries' oversight and assessment capabilities so they can record how efficiently and effectively they are responding to the disease, the AP/Herald Tribune reports (Dunphy, AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/14).
The World Bank said it plans to assist governments in combining HIV/AIDS services with programs for reproductive and maternal health, nutrition and other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, according to a release. The agency noted that the "feminization" of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, its links to sexual and reproductive health, and the frequency of HIV/TB coinfection "amplify the importance of providing people with integrated health services" (World Bank release, 5/14).
In addition, the bank said it will commit at least $250 million annually for HIV/AIDS programs based on country demand and create a grant incentive fund of $5 million annually to support assessment, health and education projects (AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/14).
The shift in the World Bank's focus follows billions in grant funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. According to Reuters, the World Bank has provided $1.5 billion to more than 30 African countries to fight HIV/AIDS since 2000 (Reuters, 5/14).
"With AIDS the largest single cause of premature death in Africa, we can't talk about better, lasting development without also committing to stay the course in the long-term fight against the disease," Elizabeth Lule, manager of the World Bank's AIDS Team for Africa, said (Reuters, 5/14). "After 25 years, it is time to apply the lessons of experience and scale up what is working," Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, said, adding, "With this Agenda for Action, the World Bank reaffirms its long-term commitment to assist partner countries" in combating the disease (AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/14).
Recent data indicate that HIV/AIDS cases in parts of Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi and Zimbabwe are declining. Yet for every HIV-positive person in Africa starting antiretroviral therapy for the first time, an additional four to six people contract HIV, according to the report. The bank reported that about 22.5 million people in Africa are HIV-positive. More than 60% of those people are women, and young women are more likely to be living with HIV than young men, the bank said (Reuters, 5/14).
The report is available online (.pdf).