How the state makes money on ill people: 50 million hryvnas for the right to import free medications to Ukraine
One quarter of humanitarian aid medications to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic may not reach patients due to bureaucracy and indifference of Ukrainian officials. Since the beginning of this year Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, particularly, Humanitarian Aid Commission refuses to provide humanitarian aid status to goods coming to Ukraine at the expense of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (total amount of funding – US$ 151 million). Charging 20% VAT and about 6% of customs duties for humanitarian aid medical goods the state will make 50 million Hryvnas till 2012.
“Therefore, every fourth person in Ukraine will not be able to take an HIV test, every fourth patient will be deprived of life-saving aid. The aid that the Government of Ukraine guaranteed to provide at the expense of international funds back in August 2007 having signed the agreement with the Global Fund” – said Volodymyr Kurpita, Treatment and PSM Department Director of All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH.
Refusing provision of humanitarian aid status Humanitarian Aid commission outrageously violates article 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On Humanitarian Aid” of October 22, 1999 – state the activists. These decisions contradict the latest Government declarations, December initiative of the President of Ukraine on increasing the efficiency of fight with the epidemic and may deprive ill Ukrainians of hundreds of millions of international aid dollars to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
“This situation places into question Ukraine’s Round 8 application to the Global Fund to obtain financing for tuberculosis control” – said official representative of the Global Fund Andreas Tamberg.
A letter with the detailed statement of its position was sent by the Global Fund to Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and at the same time the Chair of the Commission on Humanitarian Aid Issues Ivan Vasyunik in the beginning of April 2008. However, none of the inquires sent by All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH and International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine to the Government and the President of Ukraine since February 2008 has been answered.
“Yesterday an emergency meeting was called and headed by Mr. Vasyunik who charged the special working group with resolving this problem. Today we hope that before the next shipment of international aid arrives in the end of April the Government’s decision on humanitarian aid status will finally be adopted” – informed Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine.
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ICF “International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine” (http://www.aidsalliance.org.ua) is the biggest in Ukraine professional non-governmental organisation implementing comprehensive activities to counteract HIV/AIDS in the country. Since 2003 the Alliance has been implementing programmes supported by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as US Agency for International Development with total funding of more than USD 170 mln.
The Alliance aims at reducing HIV-infection spread and AIDS mortality by supporting community response to HIV/AIDS in Ukraine. Nowadays more than 5.3 thousand HIV-positive patients in Ukraine (or 72%) take essential antiretroviral therapy based on medical drugs procured by the Alliance; prevention programmes cover more than 200 thousand of people from those groups most vulnerable to HIV.
All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (http://network.org.ua) is a charitable organization established by HIV positive people and implementing national and international programs on provision of support to people living with HIV/AIDS. All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH is one of principal recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Grant for 2007-2012. One of the main priorities of our activities is expansion of access of HIV positive people to treatment, care and support, namely – to antiretroviral therapy that allows to prolong and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. In 2006 All-Ukrainian Network was recognized to be the best organization in the world to fight stigma and discrimination of HIV positive people. For its achievements the Network of PLWH was awarded with International Red Ribbon Award. All-Ukrainian Network has representatives in all regions of Ukraine and provides its services to more than 20 000 clients.
Electronic version of press release and attachments can be found on official web sites of the organizers of the press conference.