Nepali Times Asian Paints
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Mismanaging AIDS, Himal Khabarpatrika



BLEEDING DRY: A drug user being counselled for HIV/AIDS prevention at a local counselling centre in Dallu, Kathmandu. The centre is on the verge of closing down after donors stopped funding it.

It has been two decades since foreign aid started pouring into Nepal for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Major donors like the Global Fund of Geneva, USAID, UKaid, World Bank, and AusAid have spent $114.7 million on HIV/AIDS programs in the last five years alone, but experts say the money has not reached the people who need it the most and majority of the funds are used to cover administrative and overhead costs.

According to National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC), there are 19,118 HIV infected people in Nepal as of 2011. But various organisations working in this field claim the figures are much higher and closer to 56,000. Anand Pun of Recovering Nepal, an NGO working with drug users, says given the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Nepal, the funding is insufficient.

The agencies have also come under heavy criticism for trying to bypass the government. Instead of working in partnership with the government, many donors are known to take unilateral decisions over which districts receive funding, what programs are prioritised, and which INGOs get to manage the fund.

In 2004, citing the lack of human resource and infrastructure at NCASC, the Global Fund transferred the funds to the UNDP instead. A high-ranking official at the Ministry of Health expressed his displeasure and said, "Donors and INGOs have been running programs in Nepal like they are run in failed states."

Donors pulling out mid-way or not continuing projects in the long-run have also become problematic because it puts the targeted community at further risk.

Local NGOs, however, are not without fault. NGOs are involved in an extremely unhealthy competition to bag the funds without caring about whether they have the resources and means to successfully carry out the projects.

While other donor supported programs like malaria eradication, and family planning have been exemplary in Nepal, HIV/AIDS programs are becoming increasingly controversial.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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