HARARE – It is known globally as the region most affected by HIV/ Aids yet southern Africa has for decades suffered from underfunding with lesser affected regions getting donor attention ahead of the more deserving region.
That is about to change.
Last month, the international health financier Global Fund announced a new funding model which would see southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, get a lion’s share.
The National Aids Council (Nac), a quasi-government body which coordinates HIV response strategies, has applauded the new Global Fund model that has for the first time reversed the situation.
Programmes under the new funding model are expected to run between 2014 and 2016.
Nac says changes to the funding structure will help mitigate HIV in the country.
“It was surprising that all along we were getting far less than East Africa, whose HIV burden is much lighter than ours,” said Amon Mpofu, the Nac monitoring and evaluation director.
“We are very happy that we have now been allocated much more, $300 million, under the new funding model,” said Mpofu.
Under the old model, East Africa, which has a lower number of infections was getting 24 percent southern Africa received 15 percent of the funds.
Zimbabwe has about 1, 2 million people with HIV but less than half of them are on treatment.
Mpofu applauded the Global Fund for coming up with a less cumbersome process of applying for grants unlike the former grant application process.
“Instead of calling for applications yearly, countries will now be required to apply when there is a need. Funding proposals would be done with guidance from the Global Fund to ensure every application meets the criteria,” Mpofu said.
The Global Fund last called for applications for funding under the “rounds system” in 2012.
Out of the 34 million infected people globally, 23,5 million of them are in Sub Saharan Africa. Figures show that 34 percent of those living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa are in southern Africa.
“East and southern Africa remains the area most heavily affected by the HIV epidemic. Out of the total number of people living with HIV worldwide in 2009, 34 percent reside in 10 countries of southern Africa,” according to a UNAids report.
According to the World Health Organisation, the Global Fund has disbursed almost $16,2 billion for HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis in the first 10 years since 2002.
No round was processed in 2013 as the Global Fund was in a transition phase.
Now Zimbabwe is one of the six countries in the world that has been invited to apply as “early applicants” for funding for programmes under the new model.
The other five countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Myanmar, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.
At least 47 carefully selected countries are targeted to receive grants from the Global Fund through renewals, grant extensions and redesigned programmes that can rapidly make use of funds in 2013.
Global Fund, which has provided $500 million plus to Zimbabwe since 2001, finances, with other development partners, the bulk of funding for HIV activities but officials admit it is hardly enough to achieve zero new infections.
Due to inadequate funding, Zimbabwe has been forced to look at home-grown solutions that are attracting the attention of other African countries such as Uganda and has won more international funders.
With a paltry $30 million coming through national coffers through the Aids Levy, taxed on the formally-employed, community-based groups are also a large part of the matrix to beating HIV.
Nac launched the community initiatives in 2001, pooling a critical mass of grassroots foot soldiers focused on behaviour change and home-based care.
Their efforts are making up for poor funding and hospital staff shortages and today the country boasts of having achieved an incredible decline in prevalence rates from 24,6 in 2004 and the current 15 percent. – Wendy Muperi