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Belarus receives more than $24 million to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has awarded two major grants Belarus which will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. The grants allocate US $17 million to fight tuberculosis and US $7.5 million to fight HIV/AIDS for the years 2010–2013. Vladimir Potupchik, Vice Premier of Belarus and Chair of the Belarussian Association of anti–HIV/AIDS NGOs, signed the agreements on behalf of Belarus.

The tuberculosis grant is the second large grant for this disease provided by the Global Fund to Belarus. The first grant was launched in October 2007, and made significant progress in introduction of directly observed treatment in Belarus. This new grant is aimed at strengthening and improving TB control in Belarusand is expected to significantly reduce the burden multi–drug resistant tuberculosis. It targets the most vulnerable category of TB patients – those with multi–drug resistant (MDR) forms of the disease. Thanks to this grant, more than 2,600 patients will receive treatment during the next five years. In addition, the grant supports efforts to improve laboratory diagnostics, implement an electronic TB database, and train health care personnel. One of its key components enables the installation of new ventilation systems in five hospitals with MDR treatment wards. Public health officials estimate that total funding to fight TB in Belarus will amount to US $35–38 million between 2007 and 2015.

The HIV/AIDS grant continues the first grant for this disease allocated by the Global Fund in 2004–2009 and is based on a positive assessment of the joint work carried out so far by government, international and non–governmental organisations. The new grant will focus on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users, female sex workers, homosexual men, prisoners, youth, and the military. In addition, people living with HIV/AIDS, their families, and children will receive improved health care and support services. Campaigns to prevent primary drug use, erase the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and reduce discrimination against people living with the disease will be implemented as well, along with other innovative activities. Overall, between 2004–2015, Belarus will receive almost US $64 million to address its HIV/AIDS problem.

“These grants ensure that majorpublic health programmes in the country are funded by international organisations. We hope that Belarus will be able to halt the spread of both diseases through the introduction of systemic changes in line with international standards, and organize sustainable prevention and treatment programmes, both forthose who are at risk forcontracting HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and those who are already infected,” said Antonius Broek, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, who signed the agreements on behalf of the UN Development Programme.

Vice Premier Potupchik commended the fruitful multi–year collaboration in the Belarussian fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. “We understand the critical importance of addressing the challenges associated with tuberculosis and HIV infection in our country. The government is undertaking systemic interventions to improve prevention and treatment and to increase government funding to fight these diseases. Today all of us agree that joint efforts among international structures, donors, national institutions, and non–governmental organisations are necessary to succeed in these efforts. I strongly believe that the two new grants we have just signed will give life to a whole range of different activities aimed at preventing the further spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and improving the quality of treatment, and thus the quality of life, forour people. The international support our country is receiving demonstrates that we can address these global challenges most effectively by working together.

For reference: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established to accumulate resources forfighting the three majorkillers in the world and to direct them to the most needy regions. Since its creation in 2002, the Fund has allocated US $16.2 billion formore than 700 grants in 140 countries. www.theglobalfund.org

For more information, please refer to UNDP Programme Analyst, Anna Chernyshova, ph. 227 45 27, or UNDP Communications Associate, Vladislav Khilkevich, ph. 227 38 17.

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