Program Overview – HIV/AIDs
The Global Fund against HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria funded program for HIV/AIDs is managed by National AIDS Control Programme, Communicable Disease Division, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health in Bhutan.
Bhutan, though isolated geographically, is not impervious to HIV. Increasing cross-border movement and international travel, combined with behavioural risk factors, could make Bhutan exposed to the spread of HIV infections. With HIV prevalence currently low, there is still time to stop its spread.
The first case was detected in 1993, as of now a total of 47 including a non-Bhutanese have died to date, of which 15 were on Anti-retroviral therapy. Two HIV positive Bhutanese nationals are living abroad and 13 non-Bhutanese have been repatriated. This means, today there are 184 Bhutanese living with HIV in the country of which 72 are on Anti-retroviral therapy (ART). With the plan to start ART to those with a CDG count of 350 instead of 200 like in the past, the number of HIV positive people who would be put on treatment is likely to double.
20 of these positive cases are among children between one to 12 years which shows that the “mother to child transmission” is very high in Bhutan and that either mother are not willing to come for ante-natal check up or that health services are inaccessible and inefficient.
Today the awareness among the people increased capacity among health workers in voluntary counselling and testing and the establishment of health information and service center in four major towns in Bhutan has considerably help in detecting in HIV prevalence in Bhutan.
ISSUES AND CHALLENGES
Bhutan faces numerous challenges especially to reach most-at-risk people and to get people come for HIV tests or talk about the mode of infection. In most countries these interventions are implemented by NGOs and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). However, there are practically no NGOs in Bhutan working specifically to fight HIV/AIDs, and also the existing NGOs lack the capacity.
Bhutan also face major challenge in bringing people living with AIDS to work together due to the social stigma. There is also a serious shortage of manpower at all levels, and available staff is overstretched. A skill in areas like the necessary technical expertise is mostly not available. The other major challenges are the rugged terrain and distances that need to be travelled to reach many of the regions are costly and difficult to provide the necessary direction and support.
The Global Fund aided program seeks to scale up the government’s efforts to contain the epidemic and reduce the incidence and prevalence of STIs. The program is currently is continuing the activities from the Round 6 grant termed as TFM (Transitional Funding Mechanism). The TFM was introduced by the Global Fund to mitigate the impact of funding disruptions before a new funding model is rolled out under the new Strategy, replacing Round11. The TFM funding is mainly for the continuation of essential prevention, treatment and/or care services for all three diseases and no stand-alone, cross-cutting HSS requests were permitted. Funding requests was to address the funding disruption. The total signed amount of TFM is USD 683,775.00.
For more information and reports of the program please click here.
Contact person(s) :
Mr Namgay Tshering
Sr.Program Officer, NACP, DoPH
Telephone No. 17743149
Mr Lekey Khandu
Program Officer, NACP, DoPH
Telephone No. 17425548
Mr Jigme Thinley
M & E, NACP, DoPH
Ms Yangchen Dolkar
Asst. Program Officer, NACP, DoPH