Treasury committed to ensuring government’s plan to almost double number of HIV patients on treatment will not be set back by US decision to slash donor support over next five years.
The National Treasury said on Thursday that it was committed to ensuring South Africa’s domestic spending on HIV/AIDS continued to increase, so that US plans to scale back donor support would not leave patients in the lurch.
Earlier this week it emerged that the Obama administration planned to slash its HIV/AIDS support for South Africa to half its current level by 2017. The funds are used to provide technical support, training and salaries, as well as fund non-governmental organisations that provide treatment, so the State will have to find resources to ensure patients can get care from state clinics.
The US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has donated $3,2bn to South Africa since 2004, with $483,7m set aside for this year. By 2017, that support is expected to halve, and the government will have to find the funds elsewhere.
The Treasury’s Mark Blecher said the government was already committed to increasing the number of HIV patients on treatment from 1,8-million to 3,3-million by 2016, and the withdrawal of US funding would place additional strain on the fiscus.
"It does create dual pressure for us, but we will collaborate with them and try to replace the programmes (they have been funding)," he said.
The government had been in discussion with PEPFAR officials about their plans to reduce funding for some time, he said. "We would like to make the transition as smooth as possible." The government’s total HIV/AIDS budget was R22,7bn for this fiscal year, which included R5,51bn from donors, said Mr Blecher.
In addition to PEPFAR funds, South Africa also receives aid from the European Union and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
By Tamar Kahn (email@example.com)
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