Independent-on-Line, 23 October 2002, KZN's Aids millions still not released, by Kerry Cullinan

It is still not clear whether people living with HIV/Aids in KwaZulu-Natal will ever see any of the $72-million (about R750-million) granted to the province in April by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria.

The Global Fund has indicated that from this week it will start to disburse money to projects approved in its first round of applications - but unless procedural problems surrounding the KZN grant are cleared up, this province's money will not come through.

At last month's meeting between Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Global Fund executive director Richard Feachem, the fund said that its board could not alter grants once they had been awarded.

Tshabalala-Msimang, who wants the R750-million to be distributed to all nine provinces, agreed to consult further then advise the fund on how to proceed with the KZN grant.

The root of the problem, according to the national Department of Health, is that the Global Fund violated its own rules by awarding the money directly to the KZN consortium, the Enhancing Care Initiative, when the application should have gone through the SA National Aids Council (Sanac).

According to Global Fund rules, unless there are exceptional circumstances all country applications need to be sent via a multi-sectoral "country co-ordinating mechanism".

However, the department only decided to declare Sanac as the "country co-ordinating mechanism" a few days before the closing date for applications to the fund.

By that time KZN had already submitted its proposal. The KZN consortium, which includes the provincial health department and the University of Natal, then wrote to the fund to formally withdraw its application as it had been instructed to submit this via Sanac. But by then the fund had already approved the KZN grant.