Trump’s proposed budget envisions cuts to the AIDS relief programme which supports treatment, testing and counselling for millions worldwide. U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to cut foreign aid supporting HIV/AIDS treatment could cost 9 million years of lost life in South Africa and Ivory Coast, according to a global study released on Monday. In the first study to measure the impact of cuts in global investment in HIV care in terms of health and costs, scientists found sky-rocketing deaths in the African nations would far outweigh savings. South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV worldwide, with 19 percent of its adult population carrying the virus in 2015, according to UNAIDS, with a total of 7 million HIV-infected people. Ivory Coast counted 460,000 HIV-infected people in that same year. Trump’s proposed budget for 2018, made public in May, envisions cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, a cornerstone of U.S. global health assistance, which supports HIV/AIDS treatment, testing and counselling for millions of people worldwide. Under Trump’s budget, which pursues his “America First” world view, PEPFAR funding would be $5 billion per year compared to about $6 billion annually now, the U.S. State Department has said. No patient currently receiving antiretroviral therapy, a treatment for HIV, through PEPFAR funds will lose that treatment, officials have said. Should the cuts keep South Africans and Ivorians from receiving antiretroviral drugs, an additional 1.8 million HIV-infected people would die over the next 10 years, 11 researchers in America, Europe and Africa concluded, using mathematical models. The combined deaths amount to nearly 9 million years of life lost, the scientists calculated, in what they said was the first effort to put figures on the proposed cuts. The researchers measured expected savings over the next decade; whose small scale they said raised efficacy and ethical questions. In South Africa, it would amount to some $900 per year of life lost, compared to $600 to $900 in Ivory Coast.

 

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