US$10M World Bank AIDS grant for Guyana's fight
Stabroek News
April 24, 2004

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Guyana's fight against HIV/AIDS received a shot in the arm with the recent award of US$10 million from the World Bank as part of its Caribbean Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control project.

The grant will finance significant parts of Guyana's National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2002-2006 and will be implemented over a five-year period.

The US$10 million grant will be financed through the International Development Agency (IDA), the part of the World Bank Group that provides long-term interest-free loans (credits) and grants to the poorest of the developing countries to support economic growth, reduce poverty and improve living conditions. The Government of Guyana will contribute US$1 million.

"The project will complement the support of other donors and agencies and the government's own agency," the World Bank's website said.

The main objectives of Guyana's five-year plan are to prevent and control the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), prolong and improve the quality of life of people living with AIDS and mitigate the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on persons infected and affected by the disease.

The current project is divided into three components. The first section, on which US$2.6 million will be expended, will focus on institutional capacity strengthening, monitoring, evaluation and research. US$3.5 will be spent on scaling up the HIV/AIDS response by line ministries, civil society organisations and the private sector in the second component. The remaining US$4.9 million will be used to expand health sector prevention and treatment and care services for HIV/AIDS in the third part of the project.

In support of its decision to fund Guyana's project, the bank said the country's response to the epidemic has been limited owing to resource constraints and a weak institutional base. "Bank support will contribute directly to immediate scaling up of ongoing initiatives for greater impact including involvement of a greater range of stakeholders. It will also strengthen coordination and implementation capacity of institutions in the public, NGO, community and private sector to build a sustainable base for the national response."

According to the bank, it will share lessons from implementation of its Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Project in Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil and other parts of the world. It will also support technical guidance and share best practices obtained through its coordination with other UN agencies under UNAIDS as well as with other multilateral and bilateral donor/funding agencies.

In the area of implementation, government has assigned responsibility for coordinating the national response directly to the Office of the President through the establishment of the Presidential Commission on HIV/AIDS (PCHA). The PCHA will receive technical advice from the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) and the Expanded UN HIV/AIDS Theme Group, which represents the international donor community working on HIV/AIDS.

Implementation arrangements will also see a consolidated annual work plan prepared by the Health Ministry and included in its annual budget for presentation to the Ministry of Finance and parliament for approval.

Guyana has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the Caribbean after Haiti and the predominant mode of transmission is through sex.

According to the bank's website, an estimated 18,000 Guyanese were living with the virus by the end of 2001 and overall the highest number of cases occurs in the 20-49 years age group, peaking in the 30-34 years age group. Guyana has an estimated 4,200 AIDS orphans and there is a wide range in prevalence among different social groups as well as among the geographical regions. "The highest HIV/AIDS prevalence is among high-risk groups: female commercial sex workers (45% in 1997; followed by STD clinic attendees (15.1% among males and 12% among females in 2002)."