Thursday, September 29, 2022

Global Fund threatens to switch off Botswana’s HIV/AIDS life support

Batswana living with HIV/AIDS may find themselves in a lurch should The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria carry out its threat to suspend aid to Botswana.

The Global Fund grants are meant to help improve access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive people and bolster voluntary testing and counselling programs.

Ministry of Health insiders this week told Sunday Standard that the international donor organisation was threatening to pull the plug on Botswana aid following government’s failure to disburse grant money to organizations combating the disease “on the ground.”

“Global Fund is unhappy that that the grant is stuck in government coffers while intended beneficiary organisations do not have money to carry out planned projects,” sources said.

The Global Fund has cautioned Botswana  to speed up implementation and make use of the funds allocated to the country as the funds would not be used beyond the grant original end date which is December next year.

The Global Fund warned that an extension of a grant will reduce the next implementation period by time and funding hence the Ministry must speed implementations of the grant Project.

The Global Fund which mobilizes and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in countries and communities most in need had allocated Botswana an additional USD 17 million for the 2017-2019 funding cycles.

The Funding to any country is based on; a country economic status and the diseases burdens within the country. The Global Fund covers three disease areas being Tuberculosis, HIV and Malaria.  So far 20 million lives have been saved through the Global Fund Partnership; ten million people are currently receiving ARV therapy through the Global Fund; 16, 6 millions of people tested and treated for tuberculosis under the Global Fund and 713 millions number of insecticides, treated nets distributed to curve malaria.

National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA) National Coordinator Richard Matlhare has dismissed the allegations saying they were not aware of any threats by Global Fund to withdraw their support to Botswana. Matlhare however acknowledged that Global Fund response to their briefing of 24-28 October 2016 was the need for Botswana to speed up implementations. 

Sunday Standard established that a team from the Global Fund visited Botswana from 24-28 October 2016. The purpose of the mission was to introduce the New Global Fund Portfolio Manager for Botswana. 

The team paid courtesy visits to the Minister of Health and Wellness, Bilateral Partners and other stakeholders in the country like the Civil Society. 

The team further met with the Principal Recipients of the Global Fund that is the Ministry of Health and Wellness including NACA, and ACHAP to discuss implementation progress and challenges.

Matlhare would not respond to the findings tabled by the Global Fund team and recommendations during their short visit to Botswana. He however said the team’s visit was not a progress review or assessment meeting.

“Reviews are done either through our quarterly reports to the Global Fund or they can be duly constituted through the office of the Global Fund Inspector General. The Ministry took the opportunity to share progress made and challenges thereof for the appreciation of the new Global Fund Manager, as is the case in any courtesy call,” said Matlhare.

In 2009 NACA requested for $US 36.9 million (P220 million) from the Global Fund and was denied on the grounds that the proposal lacked a clear description of how its strategies would be implemented. In particular, the Global Fund’s independent Technical Review Panel expressed concern that Botswana’s proposal only detailed how funding would be used through the first year of the five year term.




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