Global HIV/AIDS funding in jeopardy

International donors operating in Zimbabwe could stop funding HIV/AIDS projects within the next two years, say inside sources.

Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa: HIV sector at risk of losing donor funding.
Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa: HIV sector at risk of losing donor funding.

“Although this is still being highly debated, many African countries including Zimbabwe have been listed. This is because of donor fatigue and also given the length of time donors have been supporting these countries. There are also concerns about lack of transparency and accountability in the use of donor funds,” an official with one of the UN AIDS donor organisations told The Zimbabwean on condition of anonymity.

Zimbabwe gets a huge chunk of its funding for various HIV/AIDS programmes from the donor community. The meagre 3.5% AIDS levy deducted from the salaries of formal workers is nowhere near sufficient for the huge need. Even with donor funding, thousands who need the life-saving anti-retroviral drugs are unable to access them regularly.

If the donor community withdraws, the lives of at least 1.3 million people living with HIV will be at risk. The chairperson of the Health Services Board, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa, confirmed reports that the country’s HIV sector was at risk of losing donor funding.

“We appreciate the support we are getting from the international community – but we now have to look at alternative ways of funding a situation, which is not easy given the state of our economy,” he said in an interview.

UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe, who was in the country recently, said it was a reality that donor funding was vanishing – “not only for Zimbabwe, but for the whole African continent.”

“We have been able to put millions of people onto treatment using resources coming from abroad. But we need to start tapping different sources as we never know when Global Fund’s PEPFAR fund will be stopping,” he said. Sidebe commended Zimbabwe for establishing the AIDS levy and said the country needed to go beyond that initiative. The government has said it intends to levy vendors – after realising that at least 75% of the working population is now in the informal sector.

Post published in: Health

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