We are very concerned about HIV prevention programmes closure, as a result of the 40% reduction of the budget allocated to civil society organisations to deliver essential services to key affected populations, including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, sex workers, as well as the people living with HIV.
Thanks to the early introduction of harm reduction and other programmes, including outreach HIV testing, North Macedonia has been able to avert the HIV epidemic among key populations. The budget cuts put into jeopardy the entire infrastructure and capacities that were developed between 2005 and 2017 with the financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which invested more than 25 million USD for HIV alone in the country. We underline the fact that for many of the 10.000 direct beneficiaries, these programmes provide the only access to basic healthcare. Therefore, the real risk of closure of the programmes is detrimental to their fundamental right to health.
We urge the government of North Macedonia (1) to restore the budget allocation for HIV prevention services, (2) to adopt amendments to the law on health protection to ensure the sustainability and standardisation of HIV prevention services and (3) to cover the expenses of the civil organizations for the first three months in 2022 with the support of international funding.
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