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World Bank
suspends AIDS grant to Ukraine

World Bank
suspends AIDS grant to Ukraine

The World Bank this week announced it has suspended a $60 million project to fight HIV and tuberculosis in Ukraine because the government there has failed to implement the program and disburse the money.

Anna Honcharyuk, spokeswoman for the bank's office in Ukraine, said government officials had so far spent only 2% of the $60 million allocated in January 2004. The money was to be distributed over the course of four years.

The World Bank intended the money to be used for medicine, prevention, and training medical personnel. Since 1987, when Ukraine's first HIV case was reported, the government has registered 76,875 people as HIV-positive. However, some experts maintain the true size of Ukraine's epidemic is likely much larger, with as many as half a million people, or 1% of the population, infected.

A health ministry spokesperson would not comment, saying the minister was in discussions with the World Bank and that a statement would be forthcoming. But Honcharyuk said the program would not be revived in its present form, though the World Bank is ready to receive government proposals on how to fight the epidemics.

Political crises, a lack of political will, and misplaced priorities might be behind the government's failure to push the program, Honcharyuk said. (AP)

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