Three decades of global scientific wizardry have failed to solve the HIV/AIDS riddle. No vaccine; no cure!
Millions of people from across the globe have succumbed to the pandemic since the early 1980s, when it was that the world really awoke to the cruel facts about the havoc it can wreak.
Many more millions are infected with the Aids virus and are at different stages of illness, the level of seriousness depending on a range of factors – some well beyond the control of those affected and society generally.
Vigorous information, education and sensitisation campaign have all but failed to tame the tide although the discovery and introduction of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have been cause for some optimism.
Intervention by regional and international organisations, including in the form of injections of funds for purchasing medical supplies and supporting caregivers, has done wonders in giving easing the suffering and agony of people living with HIV/Aids and those otherwise affected by the pandemic.
But it is now clear that there will soon not be as much room for much optimism, as some of the funding or philanthropic agencies that have for years supported the war on the scourge have decided to focus their attention on other issues or have scaled down their Aids funding.
The terrible news was the gist of a briefing by the Tanzania Commission for Aids (Tacaids) some three months ago.
The commission reported that most of Tanzania’s development partners, among them the Canadian International Development Agency, are now concentrating on the strengthening of health systems as part of HIV support at the expense of treatment initiatives and that some have in fact long phased out their support for HIV/Aids programmes altogether.
What was especially worrisome about the whole thing was that, by Tacaids’ own admission, the commission’s HIV/Aids programmes have for years been 97 per cent dependent on donors. The funds came mainly from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
Now hear this, again as reported by Tacaids: the financial crisis resulting from the withdrawal of funding had made the commission fail to hit its target of providing treatment and related attention to people living with HIV/Aids.
Things were bad even when the commission received a staggering 550 billion/- a year for its HIV/Aids programmes, as that was only half of the amount needed. With much less funding than that, the situation will be cruel indeed.
It remains to be seen whether the planned setting up of a national Aids Trust Fund meant to enable the government to come up with an annual 300bn/- will come to much in terms of helping Tacaids attain its objectives.
But this is surely a tall order, particularly considering the viciousness with which the pandemic continue to prey on developing countries like ours, but with the rest of humankind far from spared the consequences.
It is only to be hoped that the government generally and Tacaids in particular fully realise what the imbroglio we risk facing vis-à-vis HIV/Aids unless we move very carefully particularly with respect to funding.
The honeymoon is over: Any funding options worth exploring or pursuing?