Guyana will reapply to Global AIDS Fund before August
- Ramsammy
Stabroek News
May 27, 2002

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Guyana's application to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which was refused by the fund's board earlier this year, will be resubmitted before August.

Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy said it was expected that the country would be given the funding this time around. Ramsammy, who recently returned from the World Health Assembly in Geneva, told Stabroek News that he had had discussions with personnel from the fund and was told that Guyana was likely to win approval for the application.

Prior to his departure the minister had told a press conference that he did not know why Guyana's application was refused but had promised to enquire when he attended the meeting. He told this newspaper that the Global Fund was limited and the focus was on ensuring that every region had at least one country that benefited from the fund.

In the case of the Caribbean, the fund chose to give Haiti the funding and it was likely because that country has the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the region. Guyana, CARICOM and the Dominican Republic were the other applicants from the region.

The minister said that out of 400 applicants only 40 were given funding. "Hopefully we will get some funds," the minister predicted.

He said officials of the fund had commented on the proposal, which Guyana had submitted and he felt there was a strong possibility that Guyana would be funded.

"I think if the fund itself had more time... it was a very short time and they wanted to have some of the funds distributed to show that it is working, but if they had more time we would have been funded," he said.

In the meantime the minister said that his ministry would be working on a larger proposal since the last did not include malaria because of the limited period for submission.

The minister said that the meeting was a very good one since he had the opportunity to interact with other health ministers from throughout region as well as Africa. During those interactions, the minister said, he was able to work on obtaining technical assistance, which he would reveal after he has spoken to other officials in Guyana. "... Technical assistance will be given to Guyana this year... from meetings I have had. I had a very good meeting with the Director General of the WHO [World Health Organisation] and also the Director General of PAHO [Pan American Health Organisation]," the minister said.

And even though Guyana has long since announced that it is producing its own anti-retroviral drugs, Ramsammy told Stabroek News that Guyana had participated with CARICOM in negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies for drugs at lower prices. In the past, he said, these companies only wanted to negotiate with individual countries, but were now considering talking "to the region as a whole and CARICOM has established a task force which is made up of the ministers of health of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados and Grenada."