KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) has pledged almost RM5 million to support the Malaysian AIDS Foundation’s (MAF) initiatives aimed at combating HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and hepatitis C in the country.
The announcement was made at the MAF’s Aidilfitri Open House and 30th Anniversary Celebration yesterday by Deputy Director-General of Health Dr Norhayati Rusli, who was filling in for Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni.
Dr Norhayati said the MAF will receive RM4,992,659 to carry out projects related to HIV, STI, and Hepatitis C. The MOH has also entrusted the MAF with the entire management of government grants for the implementation of HIV and AIDS prevention programmes, recognising the foundation’s ability to promote the concept of smart sharing.
The MOH’s grant of RM7 million will finance health care service packages for key populations in 45 locations nationwide under the Differentiated HIV Services for Key Populations (DHSKP) modality.
“In recognition of MAF’s ability to drive the concept of smart sharing, the MOH has given its complete confidence to MAF to manage government grants for the implementation of national HIV and AIDS prevention programmes amounting to RM7 million per year.
“Previously, the MOH had given an advance to the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) at the beginning of the year, amounting to RM2,007,341, while the MAF will receive as much as RM4,992,659 to implement projects related to HIV, STI, and Hepatitis C.
“With this, it is hoped that the MOH’s funds will become the trigger for more comprehensive cooperation between MOH and MAF in the future,” said Norhayati, on behalf of Lukanisman.
Dr Norhayati presented the grant to MAF, which was represented by MAF chairman Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, MAF patron Marina Mahathir, and MAC president Associate Professor Dr Raja Iskandar Shah Raja Azwa.
MAF also received a sponsorship of 700,000 condoms worth RM1.05 million from local condom manufacturer Karex Bhd. This donation will go towards the DHSKP programme, which is aimed at increasing services for target groups and is being carried out through a smart collaboration between the government and NGOs.
Malaysia has seen sexual transmission of HIV become the primary mode of transmission over the last decade, with men who have sex with men (MSM) predicted to become the main key population in the country by 2030, according to the Global AIDS Monitoring Report 2022.
Dr Norhayati has expressed the MOH’s support for the advocacy efforts of members of the HIV community aimed at reducing stigmatisation and discrimination and improving the situation for people living with HIV. This support is based on the principle of Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV and AIDS.
Dr Norhayati said the response to HIV and AIDS in Malaysia is unique, as it emphasises the close collaboration between non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil societies to ensure that interventions aimed at controlling the epidemic reach their target groups, particularly the key population at risk of HIV infection.
This shared responsibility approach has been further expanded in the National Strategic Plan to end AIDS by 2030. The MOH aims to enhance the sustainability of the nation’s HIV and AIDS response by engaging the corporate sector through the Tripartite HIV Intervention Program (THIP), Dr Norhayati said.
The MAF was established by the MAC in 1993 to bridge the gap in funding for AIDS programmes by the government and to respond to the growing AIDS crisis at the time.
The foundation is fully incorporated under the Trustees Incorporation Act (1952) and is a legally recognised tax-exempt NGO that works closely with corporate organisations and institutional funders to raise funds for the 47 Partner Organizations of MAC and provide direct assistance to people living with HIV in Malaysia.
In 1992, the government established the MAC with the aim of reaching out to marginalised segments of society that were at the centre of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.