Lady Solon wants AIDS fund probed

by Noel Sales Barcelona

ANTIPOLO CITY – Iloilo (1st District) Rep. Janet Garin calls on the government to investigate the‚ health‚ of the AIDS fund as cases of the disease now reaching almost a pandemic proportions.

In a statement sent to media, Garin said that the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, one of country’s biggest donors for HIV and AIDS programs had already suspended all five of its grants to the Tropical Disease Foundation (TDF) in the Philippines after reports of unauthorized expenditure.

TDF is a Department of Health (DOH)-supervised institution and co-chaired by the Secretary of Health.

“As a medical doctor, I am disheartened that this happened to one of our foreign partners in improving the health outcomes in this country for years,” she said.

Citing a report from the Office of the Inspector General, she said that around US$1 Million (P46,707,999.11, based on February 10 Forex), out of the total $85 million (P3.97 billion) disbursements for the AIDS prevention and intervention funds were spent illegally, or beyond the Grant’s terms and condition.

Garin, who is also a doctor says that she is disheartened by the incident and urges the authorities take the necessary actions to know what really transpired and what the accountability of the DOH is, as it performs a supervisory role in the implementation of the Global Fund Grants.

On December 2009, the DOH has sounded the alarm of the sudden increase of the number of people positive with human immune-deficiency virus (HIV), especially among the young people.

The Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry reported that for October 2009, 80 new HIV cases have been confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory. This was a 36% increase compared to the same period last year (59 in 2008). This brought the total of cases for 2009 to 626. Four (4) of these new cases were reported as AIDS. There was no death reported for the month of October.

The cumulative number of HIV cases from 1984 to October this year is 4,218, of which 828 have become AIDS. Of the 828 cases, 314 have already died. The most common mode of transmission was sexual contact (3,798 out of 4,218), while the least common was through mother-to-child transmission (49/4,218).

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