Bangladesh to Launch 52 Million Dollar Anti-AIDS Project
Bangladesh, with the help of the World Bank, is set to launch a massive 52 million dollar project to fights AIDS from the new year, a newspaper reported here Saturday.
"The Bangladesh government has appealed for a substantial HIV/AIDS program before it becomes an epidemic," Jagmohan Kang, the World Bank's Health and Population Sector Task manager told the Daily Star newspaper.
The bank-aided project would be implemented over a four-year period starting in January, 2001, it said.
The bank earlier this month approved a credit worth 40 million dollars, while Britain would provide 10 million dollars and the remainder would funded by Bangladesh, the bank said.
"It is still possible for Bangladesh to avoid a nationwide AIDS epidemic because infection rates are low ... But these rates are rising within specific populations," Brad Herbert, the bank-appointed team leader for the scheme said in a statement.
He said the highest priority at this point, and a main aim of the project, was to promote safe behavior among groups most likely to contract and spread the disease.
"Without strong, immediate action, Bangladesh runs the risk of experiencing the devastating social and economic effects of the full-blown epidemic seen in other countries," he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said the disease was spreading at an "alarming rate" in South Asia, with more than 3.5 million people infected in neighboring India.
About half the project's budget would be spent via non-governmental organizations providing services to the high risk groups, mainly focusing on education on preventive measures, Kang said.
Hailing the government appeal, he said it was rare to see authorities taking action before the disease became a serious problem.
The bank said while the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Bangladesh was still relatively low, patterns of behavior which could cause a rapid spread of the infection were widespread.
In particular, the sharing of needles by injection drug users, low condom use within the country's large commercial sex industry and blood transfusion from unscreened blood supplies were all factors which threatened to significantly raise the number of cases in coming years.
"HIV/AIDS is likely to become a major development challenge in Bangladesh as it will threaten the country's achievements in reducing poverty and raising the quality of life," the bank said.
So far reportedly 10 patients have died of AIDS and more than 100 other are infected with HIV, although some organizations claim the number could be as high as 20,000 -- DHAKA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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