The Global Fund has warned that it will withdraw its international aid to fight HIV with free antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Cameroon, if the country continues to bypass its own share of the funding.
Cameroon is supposed to pay 20% of the cost to get the drugs, but at this time it has accumulated a debt of $ 47 million for financing, according to the BBC published on September 4.
A source that works with the country's national HIV / AIDS program and wishes to remain anonymous, told Global Voices: “We were told from Yaounde (the capital) to review the stock of antiretroviral drugs (and) that we were aware of the situation”. The Government has not issued an official response.
The Global Fund, which also funds the fight against malaria and tuberculosis worldwide, will suspend its contract with Cameroon from January 2020. At that time, those living with HIV will have to pay for the vital medicines that allow them have a normal life.
A woman told the BBC that the lack of access to these drugs “will be a death sentence for people with HIV.” A doctor who runs a clinic told the BBC that supplies of antiretroviral drugs have declined since June. Before, he could provide up to three months of antiretroviral treatment, but now he can only do it from month to month, due to the lack of supplies and the concern that they may run out.
Cameroon has made good progress in fighting HIV AIDS but now patients may start buying ARV drugs which have been given free of charge for over a decade due to a default payment by the government to Global Fund
– Ikote Brian (@IkoteBrian) September 4, 2019
Cameroon has made great progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, but now perhaps patients should start buying the antiretroviral drugs they have been receiving for free for more than a decade because the Government has not paid the Global Fund.
Ebongo Zacchaeus, representative of the Ministry of Health of Cameroon, told Global Voices that there are reasons to worry.
“There will be an important meeting at the Ministry of Health to discuss the issue. The minister is doing everything possible to ensure there are no interruptions (in supply), ”said Ebongo, allaying fears about the lack of availability of antiretroviral drugs in Cameroon.
“There is no shortage of stocks; antiretroviral medications are available in hospitals; We only have problems to distribute them in the areas affected by the crisis, ”he said.
Ebongo refers to the English-speaking regions of the northwest and southwest of Cameroon that have been hit by the armed conflict between the English-speaking rebels and the French-speaking military as part of an English-speaking separatist movement. As a result of the protracted conflict, the United Nations estimates that at least 1800 people have died, more than 530,000 people have been displaced and more than 1.3 million people need assistance.
With a drop in the HIV prevalence rate from 4.3% in 2011 to 3.4% in 2018, according to the BBC, this measure would delay Cameroon's significant progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
With the current crisis in the northwest and southwest regions, there is a high risk of “rapid increase in new HIV infections following discontinuation of antiretroviral drugs”:
Humanitarian situation is fast deteriorating in Cameroon's North & South-west regions
-1.3M pp in need of assistance
– 437,000+ pp fled their homes
– 80% + of children no longer go to school
– high risk of rapid increase in new HIV infections after interruption of ARV medication pic.twitter.com/sYpM9m9bsg
– Hajer Naili (@H_NAILI) February 21, 2019
The humanitarian situation deteriorates rapidly in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon:
– 1.3 million people need assistance
– More than 437,000 people have fled their homes
– More than 80% of children no longer go to school
– High risk of rapid increase of new HIV infections after discontinuation of antiretroviral drugs
In 2013, the Global Fund and Cameroon announced a new program for HIV treatment; the first announced a fund of 20 million dollars, while Cameroon promised to strengthen the agreement making it a priority in its state budget.
Currently, more than half a million people living with HIV in Cameroon face uncertainty:
Uncertainty looms the around the survival of more than half a million persons living with HIV in Cameroon https://t.co/wu7tAP0z1d pic.twitter.com/2ge6nI73y3
– Shabir Moosa (@ShabirMoosa) September 1, 2019
Uncertainty threatens the survival of more than half a million people living with HIV in Cameroon.