Global Fund grants Zimbabwe $502m

HARARE - The Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria yesterday granted Zimbabwe $502 million, with government giving assurances that the money will not be misused.

The head of the Global Fund Grant Management,  Mark Eddington, said: “This partnership present here ... we need to continue to work together in the same spirit. With these new agreements, we will strengthen  health systems to achieve the targets that have been set to curb these diseases.”

Eddington said the half-a-billion dollars would be overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe.

Apart from helping in the fight against HIV/Aids, the money would also be committed to tuberculosis and malaria programmes which will be implemented by the Health and Child Care ministry.

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said the money would be used judiciously.

In 2007,  Zimbabwe’s central bank confiscated $7,3 million meant for health programmes.

The central bank later returned the money, Global Fund officials confirmed.

Parirenyatwa said: “I also want to assure you of the safety of your investments as they will be under the guard of the  (retired) major general Gerald Gwinji (who is also the Health  permanent secretary).”

United Nations resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli said the UN community was committed to improving health care in Zimbabwe.

“The UN and UNDP are proud to be strategic partners in managing the Global Fund grants and supporting the three diseases — Malaria, TB and HIV. Through the strategic partnership, we have brought innovations through new technologies such as solar for health equipment,” Parajuli said.

The main funders of the Global Fund, the United States, called for increased domestic funding to the health sector to ensure better support of health systems.

“We believe that through transparency, accountability, and the power of partnership, these resources can accelerate progress, even within a context of financial constraints and economic challenges,” US ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas Jr said.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, although the rate has been coming down in recent years.

The country’s economic woes have destroyed the public health system.

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