23 Nov 2004

PNG health minister prioritises Aids fight

4:47 pm on 23 November 2004

Papua New Guinea's health minister, Melchior Pep, says in his budget he has prioritised the fight against HIV Aids.

Mr Pep says HIV/AIDS is a timebomb that requires urgent attention.

The government's total 2005 budget is 1.6 billion US dollars, and more than 3 million US dollars will go to fund HIV Aids work.

Figures from the National Aids Council Secretariat show the disease now affects three percent of the PNG's 5.2 million people.

Mr Pep says until now, HIV/Aids projects have been reliant on international aid donors.

"This is the first time government has allocated this kind of money, the big money. We've been telling the government we are sitting on a timebomb. We need to take this thing on board as one of the development projects. Otherwise all of our population will go in ten years time, twenty years time, a hundred years time."

Melchior Pep says the money will go to the National Aids Council Secretariat, which has a national strategy in place to fight the spread of the disease.

He says the Global Fund has also given 10 million US dollars over the next two years.