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Concern over AIDS spending - Living with AIDS #384




 

In a rare debate, political parties made public their stance on a range of issues relating to the treatment of AIDS and HIV prevention. Fears emerged that the current global economic crisis will have an impact on how South Africa responds to the epidemic in the future.

Five politicians from the African National Congress, the Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Independent Democrats and the Azanian People's Organisation participated in the debate organized by the Soul City Institute for Health and Communication and the Sunday Times last week. New kid on the block, Congress of the People didn't pitch up. The parties present all promise an increase in health and AIDS spending should they win the election. The AIDS Law Project's Mark Heywood, a respondent to the panel, pointed out that the global economic climate will most likely have a negative impact on how the government spends on health and HIV.

But the global financial crisis should not be an excuse for lack of funds for health spending, said the DA's spokesperson on health, Sandy Kalyan. She cited examples of mismanagement, maladministration and the non-commitment of funds earmarked for projects as problem areas.

"In Greytown, in KwaZulu-Natal, a specialized TB unit was opened in March, this year. It cost R600 000 to build the facility. But the opening function cost R824 586. Fourteen-thousand-four-hundred people attended this function. And the transport cost was R194 000. So, when you talk about not enough funding, I tend to disagree with you. There is too little funding for ARVs from Treasury, but we also miss out on opportunities. Earlier this year, R80 million in funding from the Global Fund to fight AIDS (TB and Malaria) was put on hold because government had not set up the structures that were required to administer it. By November last year, the Department of Health had spent only 58% of its capital budget and 63% of the current budget. And then what happens towards the end of the financial year? We practice fiscal dumping. And that's when wasteful and non-productive expenditure occurs", said Kalyan.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Molefi Sefularo, gave an assurance on the health budget. He also admitted to government's wastage, saying money can be put to better use.

"We have tried to protect the health budget. In nominal terms, it is the only budget that will not be decreasing. We, as the ANC, are seriously looking at the amount of waste that there is in government. When we talk about a human rights-based approach to health, we are saying 'you should not trade-off the right of a person to antiretroviral treatment for a broadcasting satellite office of a broadcasting corporation in New York or some experimental thing like a pebble-bed modular reaction, which is now costing us billions'. We must seriously provide for health first. There are a lot of wasteful activities that we see in government as the ANC that we'd like to reduce", Sefularo said.



 


Health-e is a news agency that produces news and in-depth analysis for the print and electronic media. Their particular focus is HIV/AIDS, public health and issues regarding health policy and practice in South Africa. They provide print features for newspapers and magazines and well as broadcast packages for national and community radio stations. They also accept commissions. 



Information in this article was accurate in April 2, 2009. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.