Catastrophe. That was the word Dr. Herbert Betancourt used when I asked him Tuesday what impact the shortfall in Global Fund donations may have on the effort to reduce the AIDS and TB burden in El Salvador.
“The most negative impact will be on prevention (efforts), followed later by treatment,” says Betancourt, country officer for the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS, or UNAIDS, in El Salvador. Together, he says, cutbacks on these two fronts will allow AIDS and TB (which often accompanies advanced HIV infection) to surge back. This, he says, would be tragic and potentially catastrophic.
Middle-income countries like El Salvador, Betancourt says, are at great risk of losing support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. When funding gets tight, he says, the international community will look for places to cut and programs in middle-income countries will appear more expendable than those in poor countries.
This neglects the reality that middle-income countries still have a lot of poor people (actually, most of the world’s poor now live in middle-income countries) who, when times get tight, fall through the cracks.
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