AIDS funding returns to Mauritania
By Jemal Oumar for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 09/08/11
After a two-year freeze on funding, efforts to fight HIV/AIDS are recommencing in Mauritania. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS decided to return to operations after questions of corruption and mismanagement of funds by Mauritania and other African partners were addressed in talks with the government.
"After the Fund stopped its support to Mauritania in March 2009, we noticed that the condition of patients in Mauritania started to deteriorate," said Mauritanian UNAIDS co-ordinator Dr Elhadj Ould Abdellahi in a statement to Magharebia.
This prompted us to contact all UN agencies and the regional office, and we sent a mission representing the government and a number of organisations and partners to evaluate the condition of Mauritania," he added.
"However," Ould Abdellahi said, "the return of support [to] Mauritania was conditional on the reimbursement of amounts that were embezzled in the past, the prosecution of people responsible, and the restructuring of the Co-ordination to Combat AIDS."
According to recent statistics, there are 14,000 Mauritanians living with HIV, Ould Abdellahi said, with women representing roughly 7%. The UN has an intensive agenda to stop the spread of the disease by 2015. Mohamed Ould Moloud, a member of the Executive Secretariat for Fighting AIDS, has lived with the disease since 2002. Speaking on behalf of Mauritanian AIDS patients, he expressed appreciation for the work the UN and the Fund have done.
"The amount of funding brought by the Global Fund for the next two or three years – some $12 million – will bring actors back to combating the disease through awareness-raising and sensitisation efforts," he said.
Ould Moloud told Magharebia it was difficult to give accurate statistics on the issue of AIDS in Mauritania. "However, we're recording about 40 infected people a month, and the total number registered with us is about 3,600, 1,800 of whom receive the three-drug combination treatment."
He added that during the two-year freeze in funding, his group lost 1,200 tons of medicine and access to regular treatment.
We just can't live without the medicines that we need to face this disease, which undermines our immune systems," said fellow AIDS patient Fatimata Ball. "As people living with AIDS, we pay the price of the previous years in which the Fund stopped its support."
Moulay Mehdi Ould Moulay Zeine, who runs another Mauritanian NGO to assist HIV/AIDS patients, told Magharebia: "Many non-governmental organisations that are active in combating AIDS were greatly affected by the suspension of support, and some of them were completely paralysed. We hope that these organisations will resume their vital role because society needs them."
"According to 2010 statistics," Ould Moulay Zeine said, "the rate of AIDS in Mauritania is about 0.71%. However, the open and free awareness-raising campaigns we are conducting aim to maintain the same level or keep it under 1%."
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