Fate of HIV/AIDS Funding for KwaZulu-Natal Still ‘Hanging in the Balance,’ U.S. Official Says
The fate of a $23 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province is still "hanging in the balance," according to a USAID official, Reuters/Boston Globe reports. Anne Peterson, assistant administrator for global health at USAID, on Monday said, "We're still waiting for the discussions to happen. If the matter is not resolved, I think that issue will have to go to the board," Peterson said, noting that the Global Fund's next board meeting is scheduled for October (Reuters/Boston Globe, 8/27). In April, the fund approved a one-year, multimillion-dollar grant that would allow KwaZulu-Natal to expand the Harvard AIDS Institute's Enhancing Care Initiative from one hospital to all clinics in the province. In June, the South African government tried to block the grant, stating that the grant application did not go through the national government before being submitted to the fund as specified in the application guidelines. KwaZulu-Natal officials said that they applied directly to the fund because South Africa had not established a Country Coordinating Mechanism at the time of application. The South African National AIDS Committee has since been designated as the nation's CCM. In a statement released last month, KwaZulu-Natal Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that he and South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had agreed to pool the funds under the National AIDS Council, which would use the money "in a manner that will benefit all the provinces equitably and within programs contained within the proposals submitted to the Global Fund" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/5). AIDS activists say the dispute is political, because the African National Congress, the majority party in the central government, does not have "outright control" in the province. The ANC is a junior member of the coalition that governs KwaZulu-Natal; the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party is the dominant partner in the coalition. The fund has said that South Africa cannot reallocate the funds and must reapply for the grant in order to alter the arrangement (Reuters/Boston Globe, 8/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.