UN exec urges PH to invest vs HIV/AIDS
BAGUIO CITY—The government will spend less if it invests heavily in an HIV/AIDS prevention program, to stave off the spread of the diseases, an official of a UN advocacy group said here recently.
“If there is no prevention, the government in the long run will not have enough budget to spend on treatment alone,” said Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS Philippines country director Teresita Marie Bagasao.
Speaking at a news conference here, Bagasao said: “The present treatment program of DOH (Department of Health) is very good but investing in prevention program means preventing more infections and slowly unburdening the health sector.”
Official records show that over 20,000 Filipinos have been infected with HIV or have suffered from full-blown AIDS since 1984. This number is increasing at a rate of 16 infections a day, records say.
Bagasao also pointed out that the age of those infected with HIV/AIDS is getting younger. “The infection of the country’s youth, 15 to 24 years old, is a threat to the economy. They are your workforce, your future leaders,” she said.
She said the direction of AIDS health budgeting should be to lessen the health sector’s burden in the long run.
DOH said it would need P3 billion to reduce AIDS infections to a more manageable 500 cases a year by 2030.
“That (projection would be feasible) if we start now,” she said. “The government should look at the fiscal space and efficiently allot its budget surplus to address the crisis because a delay in the implementation of prevention and treatment programs may have repercussions.”
Dr. Julius Ceasar Alcala, a senior official of the DOH Cordillera office, said education is still the most efficient means of prevention. Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon