La decisión se produce después de una petición a gran escala organizada por HOPS, una ONG que aboga por la reducción de daños y la prevención del VIH.

On 5 September, the recently elected government of the Republic of Macedonia ordered the Ministry of Health to allocate 103 million Macedonian denars (approximately € 1,674,000) within the National HIV Program for 2018 to (a) ensure continuous access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV-positive people; and (b) support the implementation of HIV prevention programs among key affected populations (KAPs) such as men who have sex with men (MSM), persons who inject drugs (PWID) and sex workers (SW). This amount is nearly four times bigger than the amount that had been budgeted for 2018 by the previous government. Local activists consider this development to be a very important step in ensuring the sustainability of HIV services in Macedonia.

According to Arben Fetai, Senior E.U. Policy Advisor for Stop AIDS Alliance, one of the key factors contributing to this achievement was the personal commitment of the new Minister of Health, Arben Taravari, who has introduced multiple initiatives to restore citizen’s trust in the health system. Fetai said that the new government, which was elected on 3 June after a two-year-long political crisis, is resolutely pro-European and reformist, a total break with the previous government which ran the country for eleven years amid corruption scandals and under-investment in social sectors.

Fetai said that the Minister took this decision in his third week in office, during his first meeting with civil society representatives – “a great example of budget advocacy at work.” Unfortunately, he added, Taravari has been requested by his party to run for Mayor of his hometown in local elections scheduled for 22 October. Taravari has communicated that he won’t come back to the Ministry whether he wins the election or not.