Global Fund has agreed to continue funding support in Bhutan for another 10 years for Malaria, HIV AIDS and Tuberculosis according to health officials. Global fund has supported Bhutan since 2005 and has so far disbursed US$ 14.30 million for the three programmes.
Of the total US$ 4.46 million was for HIV/AIDS, US$ 3.98 million for TB and US$ 5.58 million for Malaria. For next three fiscal years, starting from 7 July 2018 to 30 June 2021, global fund will invest US$ 3.58 for the three programmes.
Health secretary Ugyen Dophu said global fund is for poor countries and that they don’t fund countries where health issues (such as TB, HIV AIDS and Malaria) are not a big problem.
“We did a study on the Health In Transition (HIT) whereby we questioned personnel from Global Fund on whether Bhutan can survive without their fund support so they agreed to fund us for another 10 years,” the health secretary said.
Global Fund support has made a big difference to addressing malaria according to the secretary.
“Earlier, Malaria was a big problem in the country where 34,000 cases were detected in a year and there were about 200 deaths,” the secretary said. With support from global fund, starting 2010 and 2011, there was drastic decline in number of cases and deaths.”
He also said that case detection was below 50 and sometimes it was only 7 to 8 cases in a year with zero or one death. “With those achievements, in principle, global fund will not support because it is not a problem,” he said.
But he said that although it was an achievement in bringing down Malaria cases and death it does not guarantee that Bhutan will be safe from Malaria. “With those arguments and with a risk to again increase we asked for continue fund support,” Ugyen Dophu said.
However, it was quite difficult to control TB and HIV as it has to do with human behavior. “For Malaria, the enemies are known but for TB and HIV, the enemies are unknown and for this it is hard to control and this two disease are little complex”, he said.
The secretary said that while support had been agreed for another 10 years, there was no confirmation on how much funding has been committed.
With the help of global fund, 160 people are currently on antiretroviral therapy for HIV, 4,180 TB cases were detected and got treated and 3,60,000 insecticide treated nets were distributed to prevent Malaria.