Papua New Guinea Making Progress in HIV Testing, Drug Access, Global Fund Executive Director Kazatchkine Says
Papua New Guinea has made significant progress in scaling up HIV/AIDS testing and counseling services, as well as expanding antiretroviral drug access, during the past few years, Executive Director of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Michel Kazatchkine said recently during a visit to the country, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reports. According to Kazatchkine, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of people who have accessed HIV testing and counseling, from 15,000 people in 2005 to almost 82,000 people as of March 2008. In addition, the number of people with access to antiretroviral drugs has increased from less than 200 in 2005 to more than 2,800 as of March 2008, Kazatchkine said. "These are major achievements, and I recognize the hard work done in (Papua New Guinea) that has made this possible," he added.
Kazatchkine also said that the country has taken a collaborative approach with all stakeholders to address programs aimed at HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. During his visit, Kazatchkine met with Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Sasa Zibe and Chair of Papua New Guinea's Country Coordinating Mechanism Roslyn Morauta. The Global Fund has pledged more than $42 million for programs aimed at the three diseases in the country, according to the Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 7/17).
In addition, Kazatchkine called for increased urgency, responsibility and commitment at all levels to help Papua New Guinea rapidly bolster prevention and treatment of the three diseases. "The pace of program implementation is not keeping up with the rapid spread of HIV and TB," Kazatchkine said, adding, "More needs to be done, urgently, at all implementation levels, otherwise Papua New Guinea risks significant loss of life and long term development setbacks. More immediately, Global Fund grant funds committed may be lost" (Global Fund release, 7/16).
A Papua New Guinea country page is available online at GlobalHealthReporting.org.