As China steps up its efforts to tackle the critical issue of HIV/AIDS, the Government of Sweden is providing substantial support for a key project, via the World Health Organization.
On Friday, 2 July 2004, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the WHO office in Beijing signed an agreement under which SIDA will fund a three-year WHO project on comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and care in China. Under the agreement, SIDA is committing SEK25 million (US$3.3 million) to the WHO project and an additional SEK9 million (US$1.2 million) through Swedish institutions -- in total SEK34 million (US$4.5 million).
The WHO project officially begins on 1 August 2004. Its main objectives are:
- To provide support at the national level, for strengthening the central government in developing policies and strategic planning for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, support and treatment;
- To provide technical support in developing national guidelines and tools for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, support and treatment -- as well as reviewing and revising these guidelines as necessary based on local feedback and experience;
- To provide support at the local level, by developing a pilot HIV/AIDS prevention and care programme in Hunan province. The pilot will provide an evidence-based model for effective scale-up and policy review at the national level. It will also support replication and expansion of the strategy to other provinces as feasible.
SEK9 million (US$1.2 million) will be made available to WHO for institutional cooperation with the Swedish National Institute for Public Health and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease. During the course of the three-year project, SIDA and WHO will meet annually, to plan and review the progress of ongoing activities. The project will involve a close working relationship with the Chinese Government, which will provide direction and guidance as well.
''China is still a low-prevalence country when it comes to HIV/AIDS," said Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative in China. ''We believe that China is in a position, if urgent steps are taken, to ensure that it stays that way.'' Borje Ljunggren, Sweden's Ambassador to China, agrees. ''China's top leadership has stated its commitment to dealing with HIV/AIDS as a national priority,'' said Ambassador Ljunggren. ''Many lives can be saved by taking determined action sooner rather than later. Sweden looks forward to supporting China in its campaign, which we hope will strengthen such efforts now and in the future.''