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Source: Corresponsales Clave
Violeta Ross, recognized activist from Bolivia, made an introduction to the dialogue “Facts, Funds and Realities” at Living 2016, a topic broadly discussed and of great relevance for Latin American countries.
By: Mirta Ruíz Díaz
In Bolivia, in 2012, the National network of people living with HIV started a Political Advocacy Project to achieve sustainability in the response to HIV, in such a way that when the Global Fund leaves and the money is gone, access to comprehensive treatment will not be affected.
“Where is the money?” was the question that resonated for all the activists present, an extremely important topic for the communities of people living with HIV. The question brought to the minds of the audience the reality of Latin America regarding resources allocated to HIV and AIDS, the reasons why the donors are withdrawing the funds and how communities can respond to this context.
According to Violeta Ross, there is a new fatigue syndrome of international donors in front of the reality of Latin America and HIV in general, as many countries apparently achieved sustainability for access to treatment, as they had committed to do; however, it is worth mentioning that the epidemic still has not stopped, far has reversed its impact, despite a response of more than 20 years.
The truth is that donors now prefer to invest in the environment or allocate resources to the African continent, with the justification that they are poor countries (or poorer). However, according to Ross, the delegates from Africa’s civil society said that they do not receive the resources that are not invested in Latin America and that the idea is that there is a lot of money for Africa, but they do not have control over what the governments do with such funds.
Latin America will also not receive significant resources from the Global Fund, as the countries within the region are ranked as middle income countries according to the World Bank, ”an unfair and incomplete ranking, because although the macro economy may be growing, that does not necessarily mean there is a higher budget for health”, said the activist.
There is money in LAC, where is it?
It is worth mentioning that some countries like Guatemala, Paraguay and Bolivia, among others, have not even achieved public investment to guarantee the sustainability of access to comprehensive care for people living with HIV, much less for transmission prevention.
But on the other hand, there are countries in the region from which we can learn, like Brazil and Costa Rica, two of the best examples regarding mobilization of their own resources that take into account human rights; however, “it would seem that other countries got used to get cooperation funds thinking that the aid was never going to end.”
Anyway, the achievements of a country and in a region should be protected, threats from some political and religious forces may shift the steering wheel of a country, and this is especially sensitive in electoral times.
Resource mobilization as a result of community action.
The activists that participated in the dialogue said that most of the advancements in the response to HIV, were due to the mobilization of the community affected by HIV and other populations; however, the countries have not necessarily turned the goodwill and commitments into cost-benefit actions for all people.
According to Ross, if communities do not get together and do not monitor the resources allocated to the response to HIV, it will not be possible to face sustainability once the money of international cooperation is withdrawn. The response will fail harming children, women and men living with HIV, and making gay men, sexual workers, Trans women and indigenous people more vulnerable.
“In addition to mobilization, a legal framework is necessary to guarantee the investment in HIV at country level, as a Law of AIDS and constitutional provisions that defend the right to life and health, as it happened in Peru”, said the activist.
The pending task is big and “the more divided is civil society, the task is more daunting”, said Ross.
It is likely that in many of our countries the money is there, in our coffers, but to enable a sustained response, strategies must be sought to press governments to fulfill their commitment for access to comprehensive treatment, access to prevention and information and respect of human rights of key populations. Yes, we know it; it is not an easy task.