The deputy director of the National Aids Secretariat, Alpha Khan, has been giving further insights into the national HIV situation in The Gambia sequel to our last week interview with him on the matter. In this excerpt he talked about the funding concern and statistics
Inadequate financial resources to fund the national HIV response:
This situation is compounded by reliance on a single source (the Global Fund) and limited government contribution to treatment. With a funding shortfall of US$18,933,773 million for the National Strategic Plan 2015-2020 as per the current allocation of the Program Continuation-PC, there is an urgent need in the short and near term to close the funding gap. The funding from the Global Fund has made it possible to put 7000 people living with HIV on ART, but this is out of a population of 21000 infected people. As long as all infected people are not tested and put on treatment, the quest to end HIV by 2030 will not be achieved and it will remain a public health threat.
Furthermore, critical components of the national response such as nutritional support remain unfunded, and the scaling back of the incentives for key staff involved in the response, which up to now has been provided through the Global Fund grant, risks further worsening the human resource crisis facing the health sector in general and the national response in particular.
Perceptions of The Gambia as a low priority country: This arises from the country’s small population size and low prevalence, which contribute to the low priority accorded to the country in international HIV and AIDS funding circles. Yet the high prevalence of HIV among key populations (Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in The Gambia is estimated at 15.9%, which is about 8-fold that of the national adult prevalence of 1.9%. The prevalence among Men who have sex with Men (MSM) in The Gambia is 9.8%, which is 5-fold higher than the national prevalence of 1.9%. If left unaddressed will have serious consequences for the general population, as well as for neighboring countries due to the porous borders of The Gambia.