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Global Fund grant to come through, finally
- After a three-year delay, a US $10.3 million grant to Zimbabwe
by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is "very
close to signing", an official told IRIN on Monday.
"The grant had been approved in principal when Zimbabwe had applied
for it in 2002 - unfortunately, there were delays. We are now just
waiting for some minor technical details to be addressed," said
Jon Liden, spokesman for the Global Fund.
The grant is to be used to "strengthen and scale up disease prevention
and care for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Zimbabwe", and
was part of the government's application in response to the first
round of Fund proposals in 2002.
When Zimbabwe made the application, $17 million was approved - out
of a total funding request of almost $23 million - but only about
$5 million for the malaria component made its way to the country.
Describing the delay as "unfortunate", Daniel Gapare, director of
the Batsirai Group, a Zimbabwean HIV/AIDS NGO, welcomed the Global
Fund's decision, saying, "There is a desperate need of funds on
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), which revealed last month that
a child dies of an AIDS-related illness every 15 minutes in Zimbabwe,
also approved of the Global Fund's decision.
"Zimbabwe had received no or extremely little HIV/AIDS funding support
from the main donor initiatives: the World Bank MAP initiative,
the Global Fund, or the US President's Initiative on HIV and AIDS
(PEPFAR)," said UNICEF spokesman James Elder.
"In Southern Africa, the average annual donor spending per HIV-infected
person among these three initiatives is $74, compared to just $4
in Zimbabwe," he added.
The delay in the Global Fund's approval of HIV/AIDS funds for Zimbabwe
has been dogged by controversy. "We suspect the delay was political,"
Gapare commented. Aid to Zimbabwe was frozen by western donors in
response to its controversial land reform programme, and as a result
of reports of violence and intimidation during the 2000 and 2002
Last month UNICEF's executive director, Carol Bellamy, called on
the donor community to "differentiate between the politics and the
people of Zimbabwe".
Last year the Global Fund rejected Zimbabwe's request for $218 million
over five years, for "technical reasons." David Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe's
health minister, accused the Geneva-based agency of political bias,
which the Global Fund strongly denied.
On Monday Liden again described the allegation as "misplaced and
unfortunate. We had to ensure that the money reaches the ground.
We have already committed quite a substantial amount of money to
Zimbabwe - this grant is also substantial to fight HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe."
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