Ukrainian and international media continues to cover the situation emerging out of the suspension of the World Bank loan to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to fight AIDS announced April 12, due to governmental inaction, inadequate use of resources and collapse of the work of the National HIV/AIDS Coordination Council, meant to coordinate and oversee allocation and use of resources.
As the Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance said, that since July last year, that is, long before the new government was sworn in September 2005, no meetings of the Coordination Council took place. Answering to our question about he current situation and future trends, Klepikov said, that truly, there are problems with transparency in procurement of ARV drug. When it is announced that the government buys ARV drugs for 4000 patients, but in reality only 300 are on treatment, it does not but raise eyebrows, he added.
It is necessary to recall that the International HIV/AIDS Alliance also buys ARV drugs using the Global Fund grant, and now there are about 3000 people under treatment. Anna Goncharyk, Press Secretary of the World Bank office in Ukraine, in an interview to the BBC said, «There are no reasons to say that the suspended loan for combating HIV is now reopened. The World bank is awaiting Ukrainian government’s response and change in the way of use of these resources". World Bank representatives said this in response to a statement by the Director of the Ukrainian Center for fighting and preventing AIDS of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Alla Shcherbinska, that in the nearest future the loan will be made available, EEDI informed.
The Deputy Minister of Health Valeriy Ivasiuk also said, that he himself requested the World Bank to suspend the loan, but now he is confident that the loan will be made available soon. May 3, 2006, representatives of the HIV-service organizations accused the state officials, in particular those of the Health ministry of ineffective use of resources and corruption. The reason behind such allegations is the existing opaque system of procurement, when prices are artificially raised by 20 times as well the scandal related to the World Bank loan suspension.
The Health Ministry’s response was that the loan is practically open, and the current leadership of the ministry has nothing to do with those opaque systems. However, these statements were proved to be untrue as follows from the statements of the World Banks’ Press office as well as from the State Chamber for Tenders. Lyudmila Kravchenko, representative of the latter said that according to State Chamber for Tenders data in all the 180 cases of drug procurement that were investigated, including ARV drugs’ procurement, violations were observed on part of the Health Ministry. Under these circumstances, Head of the coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, in an open letter dated May 5, 2006 to the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko emphasized, that «the issue of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis cannot all the time depend on the factor, which political force is in power.
Professionals and not people from various political parties should be designated to work in this area. Considering the fact that inter-sector coordination in Ukraine has been recognized to be one of the best in the world,” Zhovtyak urged the President «to put an end to this chaos and revive the work of the National HIV/AIDS Coordination Council with the participation of civil society and HIV+ community.”
In all this, the paradox of Ukrainian reality is what amazes – how does such opposites co-exist, loud commitments pronounced by leaders and politicians with opaque financial transactions, reporting based on the amounts spent on procurement and not on the real coverage of people with treatment, and at the same time all over Ukraine, multiple small grassroots groups work day and night with meager funding to help those people suffering without therapy. Looking at the future, Andrei Klepikov, somehow is optimistic and hopes that the situation will be resolved in the coming weeks. On the eve of the high level International HIV/AIDS Conference in Moscow 15-17 May, 2006, and then May 21, Day in memory of those who dies of AIDS related causes, many are hoping the same.
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