Cambodia – First country in Asia-Pacific to develop roadmap towards sustainable AIDS response

Cambodia’s HIV response over the past two decades has been highly successful and has led the country to be one of seven globally to achieve the 90-90-90 targets. The number of new HIV infections has fallen to approximately 654 in 2017, and Cambodia has the highest treatment coverage in the Asia and the Pacific region.

The success, while driven by the Government and civil society, has been heavily dependent on external financial and technical support. International investments amounted to 82% of financing for the HIV response in 2015. Analyses conducted in 2017 show that donor support is likely to continue to diminish in the coming years.

The impressive achievements of declining new infections, high treatment coverage, and increasing rates of viral suppression could be in jeopardy unless the Government and other stakeholders take steps to identify transition and sustainability risks and develop actions to mitigate them.

“Access to treatment has restored my health and dignity. Today I am helping others in need and work with partners to ensure funding for HIV services”, Ms Han Sienghorn, Executive Director of ARV Users Association.

In recognition of the impending transition, the National AIDS Authority and UNAIDS facilitated a coordinated approach and conducted Transition Readiness Assessment. The assessment identified major HIV transition and sustainability risks in the areas of service delivery, cost and financing and engagement of civil society, including: high dependence on external funding for treatment and prevention services for key populations; lack of funding for civil society to operate effectively, which erodes established capacity for advocacy; need to urgently strengthen health information systems and national capacities for forecasting and procurement of drugs and commodities.

On 30- 31 May 2018, national stakeholders, including representatives of the Ministries of Health, Economy and Finance, Planning, civil society, academia, development partners, and people living with and affected by HIV, gathered to formulate actions that will mitigate the defined risks and developed a roadmap for sustainable AIDS response.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to ending AIDS as public health threat by 2025. And for that to become a reality we are ready to invest in the HIV programme and continue our strong collaboration with civil society and development partners,” said H.E Ieng Mouly, Senior Minister and Chair of National AIDS Authority.

The Sustainability Roadmap, which includes a matrix of recommendations to be implemented over the next 10 years to mitigate risks in the short and medium term, will serve as the platform for the development of the next National Strategic Multisectoral HIV plan for the period 2019-2023.

“Now is the time to start to incrementally increase domestic contributions and at the same time demonstrate high return on investment through implementation of cost effective services in efficient manner. We congratulate the Government of Cambodia for addressing the issue of sustainability of the response early on” said Eamonn Murphy, Regional Director, UNAIDS Asia Pacific.

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