Despite having one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates, Zimbabwean proposals to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have been turned down in five of the Fund’s eight funding rounds since its formation in 2002.
When the country recently received a US$37.9 million grant from the Global Fund, government officials said they hoped this marked the end of a particularly prickly patch. IRIN/PlusNews takes a look at the relationship through the years.
Zimbabwe’s application to the Fund for a grant of US$218 is rejected due to “several technical shortcomings”, but the government appeals to the international donor to reconsider.
In the meantime the first batch of money has been received from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched in 2003.
PEPFAR has remained a steady funder of the AIDS fight since 2004, but funding levels to Zimbabwe pale in comparison to nearby countries with similar HIV prevalence rates, like Zambia and Namibia. In 2008, Zimbabwe received about $26.4 million from PEPFAR – 10 times less than the allocation to Zambia, and about a quarter of what Namibia received.
The Global Fund stands by its earlier decision to deny funding. The move draws sharp criticism from Zimbabwe’s then Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, who calls it “politically motivated”, a sentiment shared by some AIDS activists in the country. The Fund denies the allegations.
In Round 5 of funding, Zimbabwe secures about $33 million to scale up treatment, and voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), in about half the country’s 63 districts.
The Fund provides $4.8 million to strengthen prevention and care; Zimbabwe had requested about $14.1 million.
By this time the aid agency has disbursed just over $39 million in Zimbabwe, helping to enrol 13,000 people in AIDS treatment programmes and supply 330,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) admits to diverting over $7 million from the Global Fund’s Round 5 grant, earmarked for scaling up the national antiretroviral (ARV) programme.
The Global Fund warns that no future grants will be approved until the money is returned. The RBZ eventually returns the money and in Round 8 the Fund approves three grants for Zimbabwe, including $79 million for HIV/AIDS.
The Global Fund decides to bypass Zimbabwe’s National AIDS Council (NAC) as the principal recipient of existing and future grants. Money will instead be channelled through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Zimbabwe receives $37.9 million from the Global Fund. At a ceremony in the capital, Harare, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Dr Fareed Abdullah, the Fund’s regional head for Africa, acknowledge the tumultuous relationship between donor and country. Abdullah describes the disbursement as a turning point “between a troubled past and what we hope to be a somewhat easier future.”