Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
Government is working to raise its US$6 million contribution towards the Global Fund to unlock about $600 million for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria drugs as well as programming.
The Global Fund provides medicines for about 70 percent out of about 1,3 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, while Government and other partners cater for the remainder.
In an interview, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the Ministry was aware of the situation and was doing everything to ensure the money is raised.
“We are aware of our Global Fund obligations and we are doing our best to ensure that we raise the money and clear before we lose out. All is in order and we are hoping the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube will soon advise us on the finer details,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode on Wednesday told legislators that it was important for the Ministry to treat the issue as matter of urgency.
“Three months ago, I raised a point of privilege here in relation to the Global Fund to the effect that if we as Zimbabwe did not pay our contribution to the Global Fund, we would lose the money which was almost to the tune of $400 million. Right now, I am coming from a meeting with UNICEF where I learnt that the money has not been paid,” she said.
“Secondly, we are running out of ARVs and there are some drugs that have totally run out and that is something that we really cannot afford. We urgently require $7 million to procure those drugs. The unfortunate thing with ARVs is that if you do not take them for three months, you develop resistance, meaning that now you must go onto a more expensive drug.”
She said the Global Fund had promised to increase funding by $200 million if Zimbabwe makes its contribution.
“There is also the other issue, the implication of the 2 percent tax whereas the Global Fund is exempted from all forms of taxes from every country. This includes this new 2 percent tax, so the payment of this tax by Global Fund entails that they must stop funding Zimbabwe because when we signed and agreed, we said that it shall not be taxed; it is meant for drugs and for Zimbabweans,” added Dr Labode.
The Global Fund has been one of the major contributors to financing the country’s health programmes, specifically the HIV/AIDS scourge.
The programme has contributed to a marked decrease in HIV prevalence, with Zimbabwe being commended globally for managing to bring down its prevalence rate to between 13,5 and 14 percent from around 30 percent, according to official statistics.
Access to drugs by those in need has also increased due to programmes by international agencies such as the Global Fund. – @thamamoe