Paidamoyo Chipunza Harare Bureau
The government has saved about $200 million of the $555 million allocated by the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2014-2016 period, the National Aids Council has said.
Speaking to journalists during a media workshop on HIV and Aids updates held in Macheke recently, NAC financial manager Albert Manenji said should the Global Fund permit the country to use the funds in 2017, the current HIV funding gap would be narrowed.
“These savings were achieved through pricing of drugs which have dropped in recent years and we hope the Global Fund will allow us to use this money for 2017 programming,” said Manenji.
He said this would ensure continuity of programmes underway while working on funding for 2018 and beyond.
“We hope the Global Fund will fund us beyond 2017,” he said.
Manenji said although the country’s funding gap had widened owing to the government initiatives like test and treat, where all those tested positive are immediately placed on treatment, the country would take advantage of reduction of drug prices to ensure that there would be no stock outs.
The Global Fund is the largest donor in HIV and Aids programming in Zimbabwe followed by domestic funding through the National Aids Trust Fund, popularly known as the Aids Levy.
Manenji said in 2015, NAC collected $36.1 million in Aids levy collections, down from $38.6 million the previous year.
He attributed the drop in collections to job losses which affected many formal sector employees at the end of last year.
Manenji said 2015 collections were even lower than the NAC budget of $39 million.
“All along we were collecting more than we were budgeting but of late the trend has changed. Last year we collected less than what we had budgeted for and lower than our usual collections,” said Manenji.
Aids levy collections had been growing since the advent of the multi-currency regime in 2009.
It grew from $5.7 million in 2009 to $38.,6 million in 2014 only to drop to $36.1 million at the end of 2015.
According to NAC, treatment and prevention continue to be the country’s funding priorities in HIV and Aids response.
Although on a decline, HIV remains a major public health threat with an estimated 1.2 million people living with the virus in Zimbabwe.