PlusNews, 22 November 2002, AFRICA: Setbacks in Global Fund disbursement

JOHANNESBURG, 22 November (IRIN) - A voucher scheme to provide discounted mosquito nets to infants and pregnant women in Tanzania and a project for HIV prevention and treatment efforts in Ghana, were to become the first programmes to benefit from a new round of grants by the Global Fund.

But infants and women in
Tanzania might not reap these benefits after the disbursement to the country was cancelled.

"It was basically a bureaucratic setback," Junaid Seedat, a regional spokesman for the Fund told PlusNews. According to Seedat, the country's finance ministry wanted to control how the money would be used, despite initial agreement that the health ministry would administer the grant.

"While the Global Fund had reached an agreement with the Principle Recipient and the Chair of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), it appears that further discussion is required between
Tanzaniaís CCM and the Tanzanian Ministry of Finance on key components of the agreement," the Fund said in a statement.

"The Global Fund sincerely hopes that matters will be resolved quickly and that this ground breaking proposal to reduce malaria will soon be implemented and will bring the intended benefits to all Tanzanians," it added.

Ghana's grant will soon be made available after an agreement was signed by officials from the Fund and Ghana's CCM on Friday. The US $4.2 million HIV/AIDS agreement will build 16 Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centres, provide prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services to 600 mothers per year, and begin antiretroviral therapy for 2,000 people with AIDS.

It also will strengthen Home Based Care (HBC) and peer education within rural communities by involving people living with HIV/AIDS.

The Global Fund is still in negotiation with 37 additional countries that were approved in its first proposal round, and the fate of the US $72 million grant to
South Africa 's KwaZulu-Natal province remains unclear.

The government controversially tried to block the province's grant, stating that the application did not go through the national government before being submitted to the Fund as specified in the application guidelines.