Vol. 4 Num 237 Sat. January 24, 2004  

German donor agrees to fund HIV programme

A German donor agency is ready to provide 20 million US dollars to Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) for HIV programmes in the port city, official sources said.

"The funds are in the pipeline as the German donor agency, GTZ, took interest in the project and the process is underway to launch the HIV programmes," said Selim Akter Chowdhury, a health official of CCC.

"We have also planned to set up an Aids monitoring centre in Chittagong port area for screening the foreign sailors arriving here. Besides, other programmes will be launched with that funds as part of preventive measures," he said. "The work will start as soon as we receive the funds."

"We are in contact with the officials of the donor agency, which agreed to provide the funds after fruitful talks with the CCC authorities three months ago," the health official said.

According to experts, Chittagong is vulnerable to cross-border invasion of the epidemic as it borders Myanmar and India, the two regional countries with high prevalence of HIV/Aids.

Around 1,500 vessels call at the Chittagong port a year and the crew members move freely in the city without any health check-up, a reason for concern over the spread of the deadly disease, port sources said.

Although the CCC planned to set up an Aids monitoring cell about three years ago, it could not be implemented due to lack of funds, they added.

So far, a number of HIV positives were detected in Chittagong and two of them died, according to medical sources.

"About ten people carrying HIV are receiving treatment and counselling, but we don't disclose their identities to protect them from stigma and discrimination," said Dr Akter Hossain, an associate professor of Chittagong Medical College and Hospital.

They were infected while staying abroad, he added.