HARARE: African countries have been urged to increase funding for HIV and AIDS programmes, despite the macro-economic challenges facing many of them.

Nertila Tavaxhi, a development officer for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria said this was necessary to prevent the reversal of the significant gains made in the fight against the pandemic.

In her address during the 22nd International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (ICASA) in Africa on Tuesday as reported by New Ziana agency, she emphasised the need for additional measures to ensure the sustainability of funding, stating that direct funding alone may not be enough.

Tavaxhi commended the governments of Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Botswana for implementing ‘levy’ measures to fund HIV and AIDS programmes.

These measures, such as the AIDS Levy in Zimbabwe, the Levy for National Insurance in Ghana, and the Alcohol Levy in Botswana, have proven stable and consistent over several years.

“In Zimbabwe there is the AIDS Levy, in Ghana there is the Levy for National Insurance and in Botswana there is the Alcohol Levy and these all raise money for health, particularly HIV and AIDS,“ she said.

Tavaxhi highlighted the efficiency and effectiveness of such mechanisms, contrasting them with direct government funding that could be strained due to macroeconomic difficulties.

She further explained that these levy measures make it easier for multilateral development institutions like the World Bank and the Global Fund to integrate and enhance operational efficiency in strengthening the country’s healthcare systems. She expressed support for such mechanisms, citing their encouraging results.

Acknowledging the efforts of governments across the continent, Tavaxhi praised the reduction of AIDS-related deaths by one third in the last six years. She emphasised the importance of ongoing efforts and mechanisms to transition interventions and systems beyond disease-specific services.

The international conference officially opened by President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has attracted over 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries. - Bernama, New Ziana

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