Minister Kitt Announces Cooperation between the Clinton Foundation and the Government
On the occasion of the visit to Ireland by former US President Bill Clinton, Mr. Tom Kitt TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, has announced the provision of €6 million to kick-start an agreement between the Irish aid programme in Mozambique and the Clinton Foundation on a collaborative arrangement with the Ministry of Health in Maputo for the provision of treatment for AIDS sufferers.
The full Irish commitment will amount to €40 million over five years.
This is the first occasion that the official Irish development programme, Development Cooperation Ireland (DCI), has become involved in the provision of anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS sufferers. DCI has, proportionately, one of the largest HIV/AIDS programmes of donor countries, with a special HIV/AIDS budgetline of €30 million and approximately another €20 million spent on providing other support to fighting the pandemic.
In partnership in Mozambique with the Clinton Foundation and a number of other donor countries, Ireland has embarked on a programme of support to the Government of Mozambique to build a broad-based, integrated health service, which will offer continued and improved assistance for wider health needs and, for the first time, begin building a service offering full anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS sufferers. Already 3,500 AIDS patients are being treated. That number will rise to 8,000 within the year and it is expected that over 130,000 patients will be receiving continued treatment when the integrated health service is fully operational. It is estimated that 1.2 million people in Mozambique are living with HIV or AIDS.
The thrust of the engagement in Mozambique is to sustain the current vulnerable and under-resourced health service, so that it can continue to offer treatment for malaria, TB and the whole range of diseases faced by the people of Mozambique, especially the poor. Additionally, the programme seeks to build the capacity of the service to begin to offer treatment to the many AIDS sufferers in the country.
The process of offering treatment is extremely complex and, according to experts, represents a sort of second generation of engagement, following a sustained focus by donor programmes over many years on breaking the infection chain – through prevention, good leadership and education.
According to Minister Kitt “The justification for treatment is self-evident – if it is appropriate in a wealthy country, it is appropriate everywhere”. “But,” he added, “the provision of treatment is complex, especially in countries with poor health systems, because it requires regular monitoring and careful management”.
As a result of this complexity, a heavy emphasis in the Irish programme is on building capacity –structures and trained people - to maintain and improve the current health system and to start and grow a sustainable treatment regime. Using a strategic plan developed with Irish and other donor assistance and implemented by the Ministry of Health in Maputo, day hospitals, which provide treatment on a drop-in basis, have been built in a number of centres, systems of home-based care have been improved or introduced and improved systems of testing and counselling have been developed.
Given the scale of the AIDS pandemic in Mozambique, the engagement is obviously a modest beginning. However, the focus on sustaining the weak health service, while beginning to offer AIDS treatment, creates the prospect of the programme in Mozambique becoming a model for similar engagements in other AIDS afflicted countries. In addition, it represents a new type of partnership between a donor country, like Ireland, and an American foundation.
For its part, in addition to its partnership in Maputo, the Clinton Foundation has been using its profile and credibility to great effect in securing huge decreases in the cost of AIDS treatment (down from thousands of dollars to around US $140 per patient per year), reductions which have made the programme in Mozambique possible.
25 August 2004