Despite being accorded the joint principal recipient of Global Funds on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria response in the country alongside Action Aid and World Vision, the Malawi government through the Ministry of Health has been urged by Global Fund to upgrade its weak financial systems on HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB response, Nyasa Times can reveal.
The development comes at a time when the embattled National Aids Commission (NAC), which has lately been embroiled in funding controversies hence under fire from some civil society organisations in Malawi, has been stripped of its long-time status as a principal recipient of Global Fund grants paving way for two international organisations Action Aid and World Vision International to partner with the Ministry of Health as the new principal recipient under the new model.
According to Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism in Malawi NAC failed to meet the criteria for the funding while Malawi government defended NAC by attributed this to global fund new model.
However, according to sources within the country coordinating mechanism (CCM) told Aidspan Independent Observer of Global Fund that during a recent visit to Malawi on 13th January 2015 -ironically the same day the Civil Society staged nationwide demonstrations over NACGATE, a Global Fund delegation expressed continued concerns about the financial management at the Ministry of Health (MoH), but kept the state body as principal recipient because it is the only agency with the facilities to handle the biomedical component of interventions.
The choice of Ministry of Health, World Vision and Action Aid are said to have preceded the visit by the Global Fund delegation and were done in time for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s latest window of submission for funding on 30th January.
These concerns echoed in a March 2014 letter from the Global Fund secretariat, in which it was announced that “the overall performance of the current principal recipients have been downgraded to B2 ‘inadequate’ due mainly to weaknesses in financial management, which led to ineligible or unsupported expenditures and delays in external audit”.
External audits conducted for 2011-2012 found some $1.4 million in ineligible or unsupported expenditures. An audit report for 2012-2013 has yet to be completed; there has been no indication of when an audit for financial year 2013-2014 will even be initiated.
Nyasa Times can also reveal that concerns over the need for Malawi government to improve its weak financial management system in the use of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria dominated the agenda of the recent meeting in Geneva on (19th January 2015) between Global Fund and a high level delegation from Malawi constituting of representatives from Malawi government, civil society and development partners.
According to sources within Global Fund, the Global Fund called on the Malawi government to ‘strengthen implementation arrangements including improving financial management systems and ensure that resources are prioritised for the interventions with greatest impact.
“Amongst the important points that were discussed included more accountability and prudent use of resources targeting the three diseases. “
Malawi has, however, begun to implement public financial management reforms as well as measures to strengthen its procurement and supply chain management systems, as well as installing a fiscal agent at the MoH.
One of the sources also revealed that at the start of the meeting the Global Fund acknowledged receipt of CSOs 13th January 2015 anti-NAGATE demonstrations petition, which is said to have been shared with them, and applauded the Civil Society in Malawi for their continued remarkable role in HIV/AIDS response through their various existing social accountability mechanisms amongst other strategies.
The 13th January 2015 Civil Society petition, which was addressed to the State President, raises concerns over diverting of NAC funding to entities that do not directly deal with HIV/AIDS intervention solely based on political manipulation or abuse in NAC’s HIV/AIDS grant decision making and also questioned NAC’s leadership in promoting fiscal discipline in use of these resources.
To that end, the CSOs demanded government to desist from politically abusing the public institutions, resources and funds for purposes which are contrary to their mandates and not in the best interest of Malawians; the President to dissolve the board of NAC and institute a forensic audit of NAC disbursement of AIDS funds since the time NAC was granted the principle recipient of HIV/AIDS related funds by Global fund; put in place clear steps to ensure that National Aids Commission is no longer susceptible to political abuse and interference; condemn NACGATE and provide assurance to the nation that this shall never happen again in future; initiate the review of NAC policy and procedures on fund disbursement; and also ensure that First Lady’s Beautify Malawi (BEAM) and Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe should refund K5million and K9.4 million respectively to National Aids Commission (NAC) to be used for its intended HIV/AIDS response functions.
The petition also called on government to facilitate the institution of a dialogue platform with civil society organisations and other key stakeholders over the issues raised in the petition within a period of 2 weeks.
However, Nyasa Times can confirm that government is yet to respond to any of the issues relating to NAC as raised in the petition despite the expiry of their set time-frames.
According to an earlier exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, the 13th January 2015 demonstrations Timothy Mtambo all the ultimatums indicated in the petition remain intact and that the Civil Society would be meeting shortly discuss the way forward on those whose time frame has expired.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :