Macedonian HIV prevention and harm reduction programs facing closure by major budget cuts

ERA stands in support with its member organisations in North Macedonia and the country's national HIV Platform consisting of 14 organisations, in their request to the Government of North Macedonia do reverse its decision to cut the National HIV Program budget by 40%.

After 20 years, HIV prevention programs in North Macedonia, including harm reduction programs face closure due to financial unsustainability. In 2017, after 12 years of support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, North Macedonia took over the obligation for funding HIV services for key populations, even if in a reduced format. Although funding from the National HIV Program has been below the required minimum, now after four years of state support for the programs, the Ministry of Health has further reduced them by as much as 40%. With this level of funding, it will simply be impossible for these essential services to continue to operate.

We note with concern also that the reduction of the budget for HIV programs has been done in absence of evidence base or expert consultation. The HIV Platform warns that due to this budget cuts approximately 10.000 direct beneficiaries in the country will be affected in one way or another.

Therefore, the Platform for Sustainability of HIV Prevention and Support Services has urgently made public its three requests to the Government, Parliament and President of the Republic of North Macedonia:

1.       Urgent correction of the public call for civil organizations announced by the Ministry of Health so that the budget intended for disbursement to civil society organizations is aligned with the initially approved budget of the National HIV Program, adopted by the Government in February 2022i.e. 46.5 million MKD, instead of the currently announced 27.5 million MKD.

2.       Urgent adoption of the amendments to the Law on Health Care, which are currently in parliamentary procedure, and which institutionalize the operation of HIV services delivered by CSOs.

3.       Reimbursement of the costs of CSOs for the continued delivery of HIV services to key affected populations during the first quarter of 2022 while the Ministry of Health had been delaying the announcement of the annual call for CSOs.