News - 2013

Global Fund and Cameroon Announce New Funding for HIV Treatment

18 September 2013

YAOUNDE, Cameroon - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Cameroon jointly announced that they are both significantly increasing their funding for anti-retroviral drugs to meet the country's fast-growing HIV treatment needs.

The Global Fund has approved a $US 20 million grant agreement for HIV treatment while Cameroon said it will nearly double the amount for purchasing anti-retroviral medicines in its annual budget, which will increase to $US 20 million in 2014 from $US 11 million.

The new joint funding initiatives, which make a big contribution to securing anti-retroviral treatment for more than 122,000 people, were announced by Cameroon's Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, and by Lelio Marmora, the Global Fund's head for Africa and the Middle East, at a news conference in Yaoundé on Tuesday evening.

"This new funding from the Global Fund and from Cameroon is going to make a real difference," said Marmora. "We warmly welcome the government's strong initiative in helping to put the procurement and supply of antiretroviral medicines on a strong footing."

Minister Fouda said Cameroon was strongly committed to sharing the cost with the Global Fund of funding a significant increase in the number of people living with HIV who receive anti-retroviral treatment in the country.

"We must mobilize all our energy to achieve this goal and that means each of us must play an important part," said Minister Fouda.

Today's news means that extraordinary funding of $US 10 million announced by President Paul Biya in August to help cover antiretroviral needs until October 2014 will now be consolidated in the national budget on an annually recurring basis.

The number of people living with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatment has more than doubled since 2009. At the end of 2012, 122,000 people were on HIV treatment, or 42 percent of those requiring it. On average in 2012, some 1,400 new patients were starting treatment with anti-retroviral medicines every month.

Marmora and Minister Fouda said the Global Fund and Cameroon would also work together on a nationwide campaign, starting in 2015, to distribute up to 12 million long lasting insecticide-treated nets and provide every family in the country with protection against mosquitoes. More than 8 million nets distributed in an earlier campaign in 2011 will be starting to wear out by the time the 2015 campaign is launched.

"The Global Fund is strongly committed to supporting the net distribution campaign and will concentrate its resources and efforts on purchasing the long lasting nets, allowing Cameroon to distribute them throughout the country," said Marmora.

Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under 5 in Cameroon.

The Global Fund and the U.S. President Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are also providing US$10 million of emergency funding to Cameroon in order to keep supplies of antiretroviral drugs flowing until the end of 2013.

Minister Fouda said all people, regardless of ethnic origin and religious belief, and including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Cameroon had unrestrained access to healthcare. "When somebody has a health problem, we treat the illness", he said. "The right to treatment and to receiving healthcare is not in any way discriminatory."

Marmora said the Global Fund condemned all forms of violence against people because of sexual orientation or perceived HIV status, adding that discrimination and criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people undermined efforts to defeat the HIV epidemic.

The murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe, a prominent Cameroonian journalist and LGBT activist, in July drew widespread international condemnation.