Malawi may risk losing its Global Fund help following massive abuse of HIV and Aids resources through the National Aids Commission (NAC) which is currently at the centre of wantonly disbursing money to non-HIV related activities and in the process angering the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids).
NAC is a government institution mandated to fight HIV and Aids and is funded by the Global Fund on the Fight Against HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has of late been caught in a series of
questionable disbursement of money including K5 million towards the country’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s charity Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM).
BEAM was set up to champion cleanlisness, sanitation and environmental healthy in the country and has nothing to do with the fight against HIV and Aids in its programmes.
During the World Aids Day Commemoration UNAids expressed worry over government’s use of HIV and Aids resources and has since urged the government to urgently address the problem or face the appropriate action.
“How HIV resources are being used is also a growing matter for concern which we need to address urgently,” said UNaids Country Director Amakobe Sande during the commemoration held in Karonga.
Her remarks came barely a few days after Mrs Mutharika admitted to have gotten the money from NAC. Other institutions said to have also benefitted are the National Intelligence Service Bureau (NISB) and the Mulhakho wa Alhomwe a tribal grouping which has President Arthur Peter
Mutharika as a member and patron.
Sande also asked the government to put in place three measures to safeguard the many successes the country has achieved in the fight against HIV and Aids among them the reduction of new HIV infections.
She said as Malawi moves with the rest of the world to end the Aids epidemic as a public health threat by 2030, the country needs to put in place measures to ensure that it safeguards its many successes and lays a strong foundation for both managing and sustaining its HIV response.
“To this end, we would urge three things: passing of the long overdue HIV bill; quickly addressing the management and coordination challenges that are now upon us with the developments at Nac and
Department of Nutrition HIV and Aids and urgently diversifying funding for the HIV response and committing government resources for the treatment programme so that it is not entirely dependent on one donor,” said Sande.
Some of the successes Malawi has registered according to Sande include treatment access for adults which is at 74 percent; 93 new infections per day; 130 deaths per day. UNAids said 93 000 adolescents are living with HIV today and 6 900 die annually.
During the event, UNAids also recognised and appointed musician Skeffa Chimoto as its ambassador on HIV and Aids.
“Mr. Chimoto not only composed the campaign theme song which we all listened to earlier today, but also has used every opportunity to talk about Protect the Goal whose three messages are test and know your HIV status; condomise and circumcise. He has been instrumental in mobilising communities to take up these important HIV services,” said Sande before she presented the award to Skeffa.
Minister of Heath Jean Kalilani said government was doing an audit into the Aids resources and anybody found having abused the funds would be dealt with.
Reports have indicated that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe drew K9.4 million, National Intelligence Bureau drew K43 million while Beam drew the K5 million.
Mrs Mutharika during a recent interview admitted that her Beam got K5 million from NAC but was quick to deny that her charity bulldozed its way to get the money.
The First Lady also insisted that there was nothing sinister in how the funds were obtained.
“It was a standard letter which went out to a number of organisations and institutions including Nac, to help with the launch of BEAM. We did not force anyone to give out any money. The organisations gave out the money out of their free will,” said Mrs Mutharika.
Some civil society organisations have put pressure on BEAM and the two insititutions to give back the money which they are saying was given to wrong institutions that have nothing to with the fight against HIV and Aids.
In a joint statement released last week, Malawi network of People Living with HIV and Aids, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), Centre for Development of people (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation described the development as a pure sign of misappropriation of funds.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :