NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Millions of people suffering from HIV/AIDS will die if major donors battling a global financial crisis cut funding even for six months, the head of the United Nations' AIDS agency said on Wednesday.
In such a scenario, the poorest countries in Africa and Asia would bear the brunt, with access to healthcare greatly reduced, Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS told Reuters in an interview.
Experts and donors such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates have warned the global financial crisis could last two to three years, forcing rich countries to cut back spending on health aid.
"If we interrupt (funding) even for six months or a year, it will result in millions of deaths," Piot said. "If we interrupt these activities we will have to pay later as more people will become infected."
An estimated 33 million people worldwide were infected with HIV in 2007, slightly down from 33.2 million in 2006, due to intensified efforts to fight the disease, UNAIDS figures show.
About three million people now received AIDS drugs in low- and middle-income countries, while the number of people dying of AIDS has dropped modestly.
"High income countries, the so called donor countries, may decrease their budget for assistance and this budget is absolutely vital for the survival of millions of people in the poorest countries," Piot said.
6 months ago