Friday, 20 July 2018 | News today: 18

SEE health ministers discuss HIV, malaria and tuberculosis prevention

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Continuous and long-term implementation of HIV and tuberculosis programmes and maintenance of low rates of both epidemics will be provided with the new 2017-2021 draft national strategy for HIV/AIDS and 2018-2022 draft national strategy for tuberculosis (TB), which covers major challenges from transition and completion of funding by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and undertaking of this obligation by Health Ministry.

This has been said by Health Minister Venko Filipce at the opening of the South Eastern Europe (SEE) health ministers’ meeting which kicked off in Skopje on Monday. In addition to ministers, deputy health ministers and state secretaries in relevant ministries from Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Kosovo, Albania and Serbia also participate.

He said that upon Government’s proposal, the Parliament adopted budget of MKD 95 million (€1,5 million) for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and MKD 30 million (€500,000) for TB control programme in Macedonia. At the beginning of the year, the second call for civil society organisations (CSOs) was announced and we have signed the contracts in Feb. 2018 with a total of 15 CSOs, which implement HIV preventive activities.

He underlined that within this mechanism for partnership he HIV prevention is being implemented among key affected populations such as men who have sex with men, persons with inject drugs and sex workers, positive prevention and psychological support to people with HIV and their partners, HIV testing and counselling services, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infections and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

“The state has allocated sufficient and adequate budget for continuing the procurement of anti-retroviral therapy. In the coming period we will adopt new policies and funding of prevention programmes. In partnership with the civil sector and representatives of communities, this year we will work on finding long-term and sustainable mechanism for funding of HIV and TB preventive programmes. By doing this, we will establish institutional framework and will guarantee financial sustainability in the future,” Filipce said.

Executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Peter Sands said that Macedonia really shows great determination and knowledge how to deal with the challenges of the transition.

“We have seen commitment and demonstration of leadership on this subject and significant commitment to domestic resources and proactive engagement of civil society. We have also noted progress with regard to increasing programmes and significant impact on tuberculosis. In many countries, in the last decade we have seen a 50% reduction in TB-related mortality. The number of people living with HIV and AIDS continues to increase, and the prevalence rate in some of the major populations is still high. So there are disadvantages in the prevention and treatment of this disease,” Sands said.