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Audit aids levy: Group
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
April 07, 2005

THE Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has called for an audit into the disbursement of the Aids Levy to ascertain if the funds are getting to the right beneficiaries.

The call was made in a report released last week, for the year ending December 2004, only a few days after villagers in Masvingo, Midlands and Mashonaland West provinces accused the National Aids Council of delaying the disbursement process.

Although disgruntled villagers had demanded transparency and accountability, the National Aids Council vehemently denied to answer some questions raised by The Herald.

Three weeks down the line, the questions remain unanswered.

In its annual report for the year ending 2004, the CWGH, a network of civic and community-based organisations whose aim is to collectively enhance community participation in health in Zimbabwe, said there was need to lobby for the relevant use of public funds.

Members of Parliament, the group said, should work with the National Aids Council in conducting a review of the mechanisms used in the disbursements of the Aids Levy.

"We have resolved to call for the restructuring of the District Aids Action Committees (DAAC) to strengthen their representatives, transparency and accountability.

"There is also need for an audit into how much has already been disbursed at DAAC level. The results of the audit should be made public," said the report.

Lately, there have been calls by many sections of society about the need for more transparency and accountability in the way the Aids Levy funds were handled.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, Vice President Joice Mujuru and Mashonaland East Governor Dr David Karimanzira are some of the people that have called for NAC to be more accountable.

In its report, the CWGH said it would also lobby Parliament and the Government for increased funding for health in the national budget.

Increased funding, said the group, also needed to be allocated to districts and clinics so that they become able to provide basic services.

It is not surprising to find some clinics and district hospitals in the country out of stock of the most basic things like painkillers, cotton wool or dressings for bandages and this needed to change, said the report.

The CWGH said it would also lobby for subsidies on agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizer to encourage production rather than food handouts.

It was also interested in advocating and lobbying the Government and drug manufacturers in the country and region, to invest in the production of essential generic drugs including anti-retrovirals so that the region becomes self-reliant. So far, a local company, Varichem, is the only company manufacturing generic drugs.

"The CWGH will define and monitor as well the costs of a health basket, similar to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe breadbasket of essential inputs to support health."

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