Global fund suspends anti-AIDS grants

UGANDA: Global fund suspends anti-AIDS grants

©  Global Fund

The fund wants to see better control of programmes

KAMPALA, 24 Aug 2005 (PLUSNEWS) - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced on Wednesday a suspension of all its grants to Uganda due to "evidence of serious mismanagement" of the funds.

Ugandan health minister Jim Muhwezi said the suspension would disrupt the country's hitherto successful anti-AIDS campaign.

"I have got that communication," Muhwezi told IRIN on Wednesday. "They are concerned about certain issues that they want clarified, and so they have suspended grants to us."

He added: "It is a disruption of the anti-AIDS programme, but we hope that we can be able to sort out what they want in a short time."

The fund said it had suspended the grants until the Ugandan Ministry of Finance put in place a new structure that would guarantee the effective management of the funds.

In a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the fund said the decision was based on a review of one of the five grants - undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers - that revealed "evidence of serious mismanagement by the Project Management Unit (PMU) in the Ministry of Health".

It added: "The PMU has been responsible for overseeing the implementation of Global Fund programmes in Uganda. While the review centered on the Round 1 HIV/AIDS grant, the same PMU manages all five grants, and to minimise risk all five have been temporarily suspended."

"The other grants include a second grant for HIV/AIDS, two grants to combat malaria, and one grant targeting tuberculosis. These grants are worth a total of US $201 million over two years, of which $45.4 million has been disbursed to date."

The fund requested the Ugandan finance ministry to come up with a plan by the end of October for re-structured implementation arrangements for all grant-funded programmes.

However, the fund added, arrangements were being put in place to continue funding life-saving treatment and prevention activities such as the procurement and distribution of condoms.

Uganda has won international praise for its aggressive campaign against HIV/AIDS, managing to bring levels down from more than 20 percent in the 1980s, to its current 7 percent prevalence rate.

The East African country is, however, still confronted with a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic and about 1.2 million of its people are living with the disease.


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