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CAPE VERDE: Switch in donors disrupts AIDS funding

HIV/AIDS message on the streets of Sal island, Cape Verde
PRAIA, 11 September 2009 (PlusNews) - People living with HIV in Cape Verde are worried that the HIV/AIDS programme may be disrupted by a change in funders. The World Bank pulled out in June after supporting the programme for seven years, and a US$5.3 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has not yet arrived.

The government was hoping to sign a contract with the Global Fund in September to complete the transition, but "Negotiations have yet to be concluded and there is no confirmation on when the donation will be made official," said Marcela Rojo, the Global Fund's spokesperson in Geneva.

"We are worried," said Daniel Delgado, president of the Esperança ("Hope" in Portuguese) Association, an NGO in the municipality of Santa Cruz, on Santiago Island, which relies on government-disbursed donor funds to distribute food parcels to orphans, HIV-positive people and their families. "The latest funds received were only enough to pay past-due bills," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

Zaida*, 40, an HIV-positive beneficiary of the food parcel programme, said she had not received anything in August: "I'm unemployed and I don't know what's going to happen to me from here on."

ARVs guaranteed until January

The national HIV/AIDS programme of Cape Verde, a small archipelago off Senegal in West Africa, has managed to reduce HIV prevalence from one percent to 0.8 percent and is seen as a model for other African countries.

Zaida is among the 405 HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, while 631 orphans are given psychosocial support and another 260 families affected by HIV receive food parcels.

Minister of Health Basílio Mosso Ramos said the transition between donors would not have any affect on the support provided to people living with HIV and their families because the government would take responsibility for supplying ARVs and support to AIDS orphans if the first disbursement of the Global Fund grant was delayed.

Cape Verde has enough HIV test kits and ARVs to last until January 2010, but Ramos warned that a lack of funds could jeopardize the ordering of new stocks, which could take months to arrive and be distributed.

Problems

"As CCS-SIDA [Coordination Committee for the Fight Against AIDS] is no longer performing the same role that it had alongside the World Bank, and because there were not enough resources to pay all of the employees, it was necessary to reduce the committee to a minimal structure," said Ramos. The CCS-SIDA staff of nine was reduced to five when World Bank funding ended in June.

He acknowledged that the government had relied on the experience of CCS-SIDA staff to successfully apply for a Global Fund grant. "The Global Fund's management requirements are much stricter than those of the World Bank - proof of this is that Cape Verde's proposal was only accepted in the eighth [funding] round," he commented.

CCS-SIDA will be the main recipient of grant money destined for the public sector, while an NGO platform will manage funds to be channelled to non-governmental HIV/AIDS organizations.

Ramos said a mission to the country by Global Fund representatives in July had found "weaknesses" and CCS-SIDA was instructed to improve its procedures for acquiring goods and services, while the NGO platform was asked to strengthen its human resource capacity and improve accounting practices.

Another Global Fund mission, expected in the next few weeks, will monitor improvements. Although no date has been set for signing the contract, the Global Fund's Rojo was confident that "the Fund will work with Cape Verde so that the first disbursement comes as quickly as possible in order to guarantee the ARV purchase process."

* Not her real name 

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Theme (s): Aid Policy, Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Janet “China” Mpalume leads the ARV swallows, an all-women, HIV-positive soccer team, to victory at the Halftime Tournament in Johannesburg
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