Pulling out: how to make it work for Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan can achieve ambitious HIV targets despite expected donor withdrawal by combining improved ART procurement mechanisms with allocative and implementation efficiencies.

Shattock AJ, Benedikt C, Bokazhanova A, Duric P, Petrenko I, Ganina L, Kelly SL, Stuart RM, Kerr CC, Vinichenko T, Zhang S, Hamelmann C, Manova M, Masaki E, Wilson DP, Gray RT. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 16;12(2):e0169530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169530. eCollection 2017.

Background: Despite a non-decreasing HIV epidemic, international donors are soon expected to withdraw funding from Kazakhstan. Here we analyze how allocative, implementation, and technical efficiencies could strengthen the national HIV response under assumptions of future budget levels.

Methodology: We used the Optima model to project future scenarios of the HIV epidemic in Kazakhstan that varied in future antiretroviral treatment unit costs and management expenditure-two areas identified for potential cost-reductions. We determined optimal allocations across HIV programs to satisfy either national targets or ambitious targets. For each scenario, we considered two cases of future HIV financing: the 2014 national budget maintained into the future and the 2014 budget without current international investment.

Findings: Kazakhstan can achieve its national HIV targets with the current budget by (1) optimally re-allocating resources across programs and (2) either securing a 35% [30%-39%] reduction in antiretroviral treatment drug costs or reducing management costs by 44% [36%-58%] of 2014 levels. Alternatively, a combination of antiretroviral treatment and management cost-reductions could be sufficient. Furthermore, Kazakhstan can achieve ambitious targets of halving new infections and AIDS-related deaths by 2020 compared to 2014 levels by attaining a 67% reduction in antiretroviral treatment costs, a 19% [14%-27%] reduction in management costs, and allocating resources optimally.

Significance: With Kazakhstan facing impending donor withdrawal, it is important for the HIV response to achieve more with available resources. This analysis can help to guide HIV response planners in directing available funding to achieve the greatest yield from investments. The key changes recommended were considered realistic by Kazakhstan country representatives.

Abstract [1]  Full-text [free] access  [2]

Editor’s notes: The HIV epidemic in Kazakhstan is concentrated around key populations (such as people who inject drugs, female sex workers and their partners, gay men and other men who have sex with men). Unlike in other settings, incidence has not decreased in recent years. However, as Kazakhstan continues to boom economically, international donors are expected to withdraw from the country in the near future and the responsibility for funding HIV-associated programmes will shift towards the state. This article attempts to explore how different kinds of efficiencies in the distribution of resources could strengthen the national HIV response in the coming years.  

The authors modelled future scenarios of the epidemic in Kazakhstan. They looked at whether and how the country could achieve certain targets by 2020 given its budgetary restrictions. They found that the country could achieve its national targets by either securing a 35% reduction in antiretroviral therapy or reducing management costs by 44%.

The topic this paper covers raises a number of important issues. As national governments move towards covering the totality of spending on HIV prevention and treatment, they will be confronted with the need to fund (using national tax revenues) prevention mechanisms. Their mechanisms are aimed at key populations who are often marginalized. Although funding these types of programmes through donor funding may have not caused political challenges, doing so using the state’s funding may. Government budget allocation is often a highly contentious exercise. Potential shifts in national priority setting following donor withdrawal should not be ignored.

Secondly, focussing on key populations is more costly than focussing on the general population. As prevention programmes cover people in key populations who are easier to reach, efforts should shift towards making prevention available to the harder-to-reach sections of key populations. However, this will further increase unit costs per person reached, and probably per infection averted. Given the decrease in external funding for Kazakhstan, it is important for the national response to budget for these additional costs.  This is a necessity to ensure equity in the access to the HIV response.

Asia [7]
Kazakhstan [8]
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