There is hope for scores of HIV/Aids and malaria patients in the country after the Global Fund announced that the country has again qualified for an interim grant of $114 million (about K46 billion) to finance procurement of vital drugs such as ARVs and other related activities.
This is follows government’s commitment to reconstitute Malawi Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) committee. The fund had problems with the composition of the previous committee.
Both UNAIDS country director Amakobe Sande and NAC executive director Thomas Bisika confirmed signing the interim grant last week.
In an e-mail response, Sande welcomed the move by Malawi government and said United Nations has been keen to have Malawi establish a new CCM as quickly as possible.
Sande said: “The new CCM will help steer the important process of ensuring that Malawi meets all the requirements that are needed when it submits its proposal to the Global Fund on the 15th October 2015.”
Speaking in an interview with Weekend Nation, Bisika disclosed that the $114 million will cover procurement of ARVs for the period from July 1 2014 to June 30 2015, including a buffer stock of ARVs to take Malawi up to the end of 2015.
“There should, therefore, be no concern about a shortage of ARV stocks,” said Bisika.
According to the NAC boss, Malawi has also qualified for an additional $574 million with the commission confident that the money is enough to cover beyond 2016.
“The country has finally reconstituted the Malawi Global Fund Coordination Committee. We now have the new committee members in place. We were supposed to review the committee to qualify for the global fund CCM eligibility,” he said.
The development means NAC, the Ministry of Health and other principal recipients from the Global Fund have ceased being board members of the CCM, hence lost a right to vote.
Asked why Malawi is still rated B on HIV and Aids funds management by the fund, Bisika said the biggest problem HIV and Aids national response has had with the Global Fund is the submission of reports from the recipients.
“Issues that account to the downgrading of Malawi is the management of programmes by some recipients,” he said, adding that this slows down the implementation process and utilisation of the money.
NAC recently refunded the Global Fund $937 905 (about K403.3 million) following abuse of funds which took place during the implementation of one of the grants in 2013.
These funds could have gone a long way in assisting people in accessing life-prolonging drugs in the country.
But according to Bisika, NAC is continuing pestering organisations involved in the abuse of the funds to refund the money.
He said his organisation has provided both technical and financial support to the Malawi Global Fund CCM in this regard.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine in a separate interview welcomed the interim funding from the Global Fund, saying it will ease the panic the country had on the management of antiretroviral therapy (ART) across the country.
She advised the new committee, especially the civil society organisations representatives that have been incorporated in the new Malawi Global Fund Coordination Committee, to provide the much-needed oversight.
The committee constitutes people from the academia, civil society organisations and people living with HIV and government officials, among others.