THE OIL Search Health Foundation will be the principal recipient of US$14.2 million allocated for HIV services by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Money from the Fund is allocated by a Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in each country, with that of Papua New Guinea chaired by Lady Roslyn Morauta.

The financial resources provided through the Global Fund come from many donors, represented in Port Moresby at a grant signing ceremony by representatives of the Australian and US Governments and the European Union Ambassador to PNG.

In her speech, Lady Morauta thanked the Global Fund, the PNG Health Ministry and the National AIDS Council for working closely with the CCM to develop the HIV grant proposal.

The proposal will see the grant money allocated to treatment and prevention efforts for people most affected by the virus, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people.

Extra effort will also go to testing pregnant mothers, tuberculosis (TB) patients and people presenting to clinics with sexually transmitted diseases.

The grant funding will be used to promote condom use and HIV testing.

It also aims to improve adherence to anti-retroviral medication and will support stronger peer-led prevention efforts, with sensitivity training also to be provided for people working in the justice and health systems.

Lady Morauta said there had been progress in reducing PNG’s HIV infection rate in recent years – with about 30,000 people believed to be living with HIV in Papua New Guinea – about 0.65 per cent of the population.

“The new grant seeks to go further by reaching people who might have difficulty accessing services and medication due to stigma or gender based violence,” she said.

“Importantly, the grant seeks to strengthen the HIV data collection in the country, and includes more sophisticated survey and analysis techniques.”

Lady Morauta said the new grant would provide an extra push to the campaign against HIV.

“This grant is designed to expand support into those pockets of the disease that are hardest to reach,” she said.

“Our CCM and the Government are determined to keep driving down the rate of infection in PNG.”

The Oil Search Health Foundation will be assisted in implementing the program by Anglicare, Catholic HIV/AIDS Service, Save the Children, Hope WorldWide, Igat Hope, and the Institute of Medical Research.

Oil Search Foundation executive director Stephanie Copus-Campbell said that the new grant would benefit from building stronger partnerships.

“Working with National and Provincial Government, non-government organisations and other stakeholders, this new HIV grant allows for partnerships that truly leverage the private and public sectors’ respective skills and experience to deliver the best possible HIV services in PNG,” she said.

Since 2004, the Global Fund has approved grants for Papua New Guinea worth US$187 million. In addition, a total of US$83 million has been approved by the Global Fund for Papua New Guinea for 2014-2017.

The HIV grant adds to the three grants signed in February 2015 worth US$50 million for Malaria, Tuberculosis and Health System Strengthening. All the grants end in 2017.