HIV/AIDS treatment here requires US$11M per year
-warns World Bank report
Stabroek News
April 15, 2003

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Around US$11M is needed every year to provide universal care and treatment for all diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in Guyana.

This compares with the Ministry of Health’s budget of US$20M for the whole health sector, says a World Bank Group document on poverty reduction.

According to the document Guyana is receiving assistance from a number of donor agencies. In addition the government has expressed its intention to prepare a free-standing project on prevention and control of the virus to be financed through the existing regional plan for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in the Caribbean.

The document states that the level of HIV/AIDS infection is growing rapidly, and already affects 4-6% of the population. “The rate of HIV infection doubled between the first and second trimesters of 2001.

While the government has established a National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), and has developed a national AIDS strategic plan, implementation capacity remains weak.”

Further, it was stated that NAPS is being strengthened by staff postings from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A National AIDS Committee with representation from multiple sectors and international agencies has been set up for advisory support to the secretariat and the Ministry of Health.

In addition, the document says, the Regional AIDS Committees have been set up in seven regions to guide programme activities.

According to the document Guyana is among the Caribbean countries with the lowest indicators of health status: life expectancy at birth is 64 years, maternal mortality is 125 per 100,000 live births; 11% of newborns have low birth weight; only 15% of children under four months of age are fully breast fed; infant mortality is 54 per 1000; 14% of children under 5 years are underweight and 11% are stunted.

Malaria is highly endemic and HIV/AIDS is in the stage of a generalised epidemic, with a prevalence in adults of about 4%, the highest in the Caribbean region after Haiti.

“On the other hand, the centralised health sector has constrained the various regions in Guyana from developing more accessible and effective local health services.

Human resources in the health sector are scarce and insufficiently trained, especially in the hinterland where health care delivery is more difficult and costly because the population is widely scattered.

Health information systems are poorly developed and under utilized,” the report notes.

It states that the government needs support to substantially improve the health status of Guyana’s people, and to control the serious HIV/AIDS epidemic. It would also require support to undertake solid health reform that ensures the creation of a primary health care system that is more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and that provides health care to those at greatest risk, in particular, poor and indigenous women and children in rural areas.

The document says that such a reform would envisage three broad areas; primary health care, institution building and capacity building.

The Inter-American De-velopment Bank (IDB) is taking the lead in the development of the strategy on primary health care, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Health.

During the next year, the first steps will be to undertake the inventory of existing facilities, validation of health statistics, and an analysis of vertical programmes.

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