South Africa’s Failure To Sign Global Fund Agreement Shows Government Has ‘No Intention’ of Providing AIDS Treatment, Opinion Piece Says
The South African government's failure to sign an agreement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to begin the disbursement of an AIDS funding grant is evidence that the government "has no intention of providing treatment for AIDS," Njongonkulu Ndungane, archbishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, writes in an opinion piece in South Africa's Financial Mail (Ndungane, Financial Mail, 4/18). The South African government earlier this month failed to sign an agreement with the Global Fund to release the first $40 million disbursement of a five-year, $165 million grant to KwaZulu-Natal, one of the country's provinces hardest hit by the epidemic. The government tried to block the grant after it was approved in June 2002 because KwaZulu-Natal originally submitted the grant application directly to the fund, claiming that South Africa had not yet established a Country Coordinating Mechanism to review grant applications. The South African National AIDS Committee has since been designated as the nation's CCM. In July 2002, KwaZulu-Natal Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced they had agreed to pool the funds under the National AIDS Council, which would use the money to benefit all provinces and programs equally (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/14). However, the government has failed to produce a compromise grant proposal on time, Ndungane states, adding, "We have entered the realm of the absurd when it takes 12 months to prepare legal documents so that urgently needed funds can be accepted from a respected donor." According to Ndungane, the government continues to discuss costs, effective infrastructures and "its fear that people living with AIDS will not take their medication responsibly"; however, he adds that "[t]here are NGOs and faith-based organizations that reach deep into communities and are already mobilized to assist." Ndungane concludes that AIDS funding should no longer be channeled through SANAC -- which he says has not met for a year -- but through a new "active co-coordinating mechanism ... [not] dominated by the government" but instead by an "equal partnership [between] faith-based organizations, NGOs and private enterprise" (Financial Mail, 4/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.