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Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy says disbursement to Guyana is likely to begin within six weeks.
Dr. Ramsammy spoke hours after President Bush signed the emergency plan into law and urged Europe to follow suit.
The agreement paves the way for the release of an initial US$50 million and US$94 million, before the end of 2003, to be spent on mother-to-child transmission drugs for the 14 countries that are to benefit from the fund.
Dr. Ramsammy, who last week attended a U.S.-hosted meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, with U.S. Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson and the other 13 Ministers of Health of the beneficiary countries - Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Haiti - said they “gratefully acknowledged the humanitarian gesture by President Bush and the Government and people of the United States.”
The meeting discussed how money from the U.S. Emergency Fund is to be utilized and ways of accelerating the process.
“The money is now being released,” Dr. Ramsammy said.
Guyana and the 13 other countries were required to submit their applications through their respective Centers for Diseases Control and/or the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
But while the initial disbursements are expected to be used on the Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (MTCT) drugs in 2003, the Ministers were advised that forthcoming monies could be used for more generalized purposes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Ramsammy said release of the funds will place Guyana in a very good position to replicate and make significant inroads into its MTCT Pilot programme, started over a year ago.
The communities which benefited under the Pilot Programme conducted in Regions Four and Six, included: Dorothy Bailey Health Centre, Campbellville Health Centre, David Rose Centre, the Georgetown Hospital, and Fyrish, Skeldon and Cumberland Health Centres.