The issue of sustainable financing for the fight against HIV/AIDS in ASEAN countries will be discussed at the 12th regional health ministers’ meeting scheduled to commence in Vietnam for the first time on September 18.

This is a matter of particular concern for Vietnam since the country’s budget for HIV/AIDS efforts is declining.

The discussion will strengthen ASEAN commitments to guarantee funding for national and regional efforts to combat the disease.

Furthermore, participants will be able to share their experience in mobilising sustainable sources for funding the fight against HIV/AIDS in ASEAN countries beyond 2015, Nguyen Hoang Long, Director of the HIV/AIDS prevention and control department under the Ministry of Health, told the Vietnam News Agency.

Long emphasised the significance of international funds for Vietnam, given 80 percent of the total budget for HIV/AIDS efforts coming from sources outside of the country.

In addition, international organisations provided vital technical assistance and helped improve the capacity of staff in Vietnam’s HIV/AIDS control network.

However, funds are declining, which poses a serious challenge for the Government, Long said.

He spoke of the worst case scenario, which, in case of a serious lack of finance, would see hundreds of thousands of HIV carriers go without treatment, and a possible epidemic, reversing progress made in health, social order and socio-economic development.

In response, the Prime Minister issued a decision last October approving a project to ensure funding for HIV/AIDS efforts for the 2013-2020 period. It focuses on two main objectives, to mobilise all the available financial resources, and to effectively manage and use the funds.

According to Long, Vietnam needs to increase the share of the state budget allocated to the fight on HIV/AIDS. Localities should develop their own plans to secure funding for their efforts, while encouraging all members of society to become involved.

So far, 10 out of 63 provinces and cities throughout Vietnam have ratified their respective finance plans, with 39 still being prepared.

Due to the Government’s strong commitments and the comprehensive engagement of sectors, organisations and people, Vietnam has achieved significant results in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the last 20 years.

The country’s successful models were praised as a significant contribution to global efforts by the international community.

Vietnam reported 12,599 new HIV cases in 2013, down by 60 percent since 2007. The number of AIDS patients and fatalities was cut in half during the 2007-2013 period.-VNA