Malawi will commemorate the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and the HIV Testing and Counseling Week for this year on September 20, 2014 in Mchinji at a time when Global Fund has committed significant resources to Malawi.
MacDonald Bamusi, writing in the Daily Times of Friday, September 12, 2014, reports that Global Fund has pledged US$135 million to Malawi in the current financial year of 2014-2015. This contradicts what was reported on social media that foreign donors had lost confidence in Malawi’s National Aids Commission (NAC) and, as a consequence, have withdrawn funding from the organization. NAC leads Malawi’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic and is housed in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
On September 13, 2014, government spokesperson Hon Kondwani Nankhumwa was quoted in the Nyasa Times online publication as saying that despite the aid freeze to the Malawi Government, Malawi’s donors are still supporting key sectors like Agriculture, Health and Governance. My own investigations revealed that NAC’s current relationship with its foreign donors remains vibrant. Donors have openly expressed great confidence in the integrity and responsiveness of NAC.
Unfortunately, negative reporting such as we have recently seen on social media sends the wrong signals to donors and thus jeopardises Malawi’s national response to HIV and AIDS while, at the same time, creating anxiety among people living with HIV. By contrast, His Excellency the President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, should be commended for demonstrating full support for NAC by, among other things, recently endorsing the ‘Protect the Goal Campaign Ball’ in the presence of Asamoah Gyan, captain of Ghana’s National soccer team.
Global Fund, one of our leading donors in the fight against HIV and AIDS, has already committed US$135 million (MK54 billion) to the work of the NAC this fiscal year alone. The Fund has also committed US$574 million (MK250 billion) to Malawi for 2016-2019. Not stopping there, the NAC has already submitted an Expression of Interest to remain the Principal Recipient for Global Fund Resources in the struggle against HIV and AIDS. Another donor, the World Bank, will give the NAC US$10 million (MK4 billion) this year and expresses satisfaction with the NAC’s work.
In further tacit endorsement of the work of the National AIDS Commission, the United States Government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , for its part, will provide US$1 million (MK400 million) in 2014-15.
The Global Fund, the World Bank, the Centers for Disease Control and donor governments all express satisfaction with the kind of work being done in Malawi by the NAC. They express eagerness to receive new applications for additional funding. Just from the above mentioned donors alone, the NAC will amass US$146 million, which translates into MK58.4 billion, in this financial year alone to aid it in its impressive work fighting against the further spread of HIV and AIDS in our country.
It is therefore quite obvious that NAC remains in the good books of our donors. The President, too, has thrown his weight behind the fight against HIV and AIDS as described above. In so doing, both our President and our donors demonstrate a remarkable and admirable commitment to the fight against a pandemic for which there are treatments but still no cure. The national response to HIV and AIDS is about human health and about saving lives.
This struggle can benefit from positive media contributions that encourage our donors, our leaders and NAC to carry on with their good work in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The author, Concerned Citizen, is a Malawian activist in the fight against HIV-AIDS